Cognitive Issues in Policy Making

Akira IIDA
JEL codes: 
Epistemology and Paradigm Theory

In any policy making exercise, whether it is about matters of economic, social or political problems, both domestic and international, such as diplomatic
relations or national defense, there are various cognitive issues that affect the design and implementation of the policy. Without correct cognition of the actuality and history regarding the problems in question, or without correct cognition of the problems that might arise in the process of the policy
implementation, the policy making exercise is bound to fail. Yet, in the history of economics, sociology or the study of the diplomacy or of national defense, philosophical inquiry about cognitive issues in policy making has been very poor. More specifically, on one hand, epistemologists have hesitated to go into this kind of inquiry, since policy making always embraces questions of values or other subjective judgments, and hence, objectivity is not assured. On the other hand, the attention of the economist, sociologist, or analysts on diplomacy and national defense has focused on the analysis of relationships among the economic, social, diplomatic or defense factors, while neglecting the cognitive issues in policy making itself. Policy makers should have far better knowledge in this area, but they have paid scarce attention to it, despite their policy failures, caused by their failures to recognize the factors that really mattered in the case in question