Knowledge, expertise and science advice during COVID-19: in search of epistemic justice for the wicked problems of post-normal times
A consistent claim from governments around the world during the Coronavirus pandemic has been that they were following the science. This raises the question, central to this paper, of what and whose knowl- 10 edge is or should be sought, which is being side-lined through the choice of particular framings and discourses, and with what consequences for the creation and implementation of evidence-based policy to tackle wicked problems. Through the lens of Fricker’s epistemic injustice, I problematise the expertise that has guided the COVID-19 response as epistemically narrow and argue that counteracting a monolithic culture of expertise requires tackling the structural inequalities in the systems of knowledge production to diversify the social and epistemological foundations of science. Drawing on Post-normal Science (PNS) theory, I suggest that the expertise needed to respond to the challenges of a post-COVID 20 world is one that embraces greater pluralism, avoids groupthink, challenges the accepted orthodoxy and helps us revert old models and rigid path dependencies that so often neglect the lived realities and demands of those left behind. This can only be realised by overcoming epistemic injustice and cultivating the virtue of epistemic democracy.