The Moral Philosophy of Pandemics

I’ll aim to post something non-Corona related over the next few days, but in the meantime here is an invitation to discuss two (very different) responses to the crisis.  One is a very thoughtful and interesting article.  The other is by Toby Young.

In ‘How Corona Virus is Shaking Up the Moral Universe’ John Authers debates the competing attractions of different philosophical models – Rawlsian, utilitarian, libertarian and communitarian. He concludes that Rawls’ ideas are winning out – and will continue to do so.

How long will we stay that way? All the other theories of justice have an appeal, and may test the resolve to follow the golden rule. But I suspect that Rawls and the golden rule will win out. That is partly because religion — even if it is in decline in the West — has hard-wired it into our consciousness. And as the epidemic grows worse and brings the disease within fewer degrees of separation for everyone, we may well find that the notion of loving thy neighbor as thyself becomes far more potent.

You can read Toby Young’s more controversial piece here.

Many objections both to its moral stance and its data/logic have already been made – for example by @robfordmancs. I wondered if there might be any interesting parallels to pursue in relation to the impact of terrorism – taking into account the actual numbers involved, how much money should be invested in combating it?  A quick search came up with these two pieces addressing the costs and benefits of counterterrorist measures.

The first is from the Nato Review.

The second is from the Cato Institute.

I look forward to your thoughts!

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