One Response to Politics, Ethics, and Shutting Down in the Face of Covid-19

  • Ian says:

    “An ethical response to the Covid-19 pandemic would have been to shut down as much of normal life as possible, as soon as possible. This might sound counter-intuitive, given the value states like the UK place on individual freedom. ”

    The pandemic has resulted in one very clear message, continually iterated by all political flavours, but not necessarily openly recognized because the focus is placed upon words such as lock-down, the enforcement of isolation and other organised social responses to the pandemic. The necessity of private space in enabling the virus to be beaten is perceived as a societal requirement. Yet private space may be clearly seen as a necessary component in any politically structured society and certainly is important in nearly all nation states responses to the grave threat of COVID-19 (Isolation and two metres of separation). Societies are as reliant upon the individual as individuals are upon society, we should not loose sight of that during this difficult period.

    The ethical paradox seems to be recognizing the way the necessarily difficult utilitarian emergency social responses are considered whilst acknowledging the importance of the abilities contained in the individual private space.

    In many areas the rapidly changing circumstances are revealing differing views. Take Michael Gove’s immediate response about the children of separated parents. From an individual perspective, his first reaction was correct, but only if the protection of the children is given precedence. The logical reason for this stance is that if one parent becomes ill, the other separated parent could take over the care until they themselves became ill, when care could switch back to the recovering parent and after that resume its normal pattern. Resulting in the parents standing more chance of maintaining the care of their children during that whole period. A basic system with a self contained backup, as well as its own faults. The alteration, (because of legal rules, political pressure or consideration of the stress on one parent carers?) to one where both parents continue alternating child care increases the potential of both parents being infected during the same period and being unable to care for their children, An outcome which appears both ethically unsound, socially and individually irresponsible, but does allow structured social conduct to continue. It seems doubtful that the freedom of the parents caused the about turn and no explanation has appeared, but that is possible. Information feeding some of the earlier pandemic decisions may be found in the Imperial-College-COVID19-NPI-modelling-16-03-2020.pdf. A search of the web should turn up links.

    Both society and individuals have to recognize differences exist which create different strengths, and act thoughtfully and responsibly towards each other. If Society or individuals alone take the full burden the situation will still resolve, but outcomes will differ. It appears at the moment that who exhibited complacency, like the ethics, is as likely to be determined a priori.