In this essay, Francesca Bellazzi and Konrad v. Boyneburgk explore virtue ethics as a moral framework during the COVID-19 pandemic. The global spread of SARS-CoV-2 has led to the imposition of severely restrictive measures by governments in the Western hemisphere. We feel a contrast between these measures and our freedom. This contrast, they argue, is a false perception. It only appears to us because we look at the issue through our contemporary moral philosophy of utilitarianism and an understanding of freedom as absence of constraints. Both these views can be substituted with more sophisticated alternatives, namely an ethics of virtue and a notion of freedom of the will. These offer a fuller picture of morality and enable us to cooperate with the current restrictions by consciously choosing to adhere to them instead of perceiving them as draconian and immoral. The authors ask whether we should collaborate with the restrictions and argue that considerations of virtue will lead to an affirmative answer. More broadly, virtue ethics permits to deal with the practical concerns about how an individual should behave during this pandemic, given the current lockdown measures or lack thereof.
The Journal of Law and the Biosciences (JLB) is the first peer-reviewed legal journal focused on the advances at the intersection of law and the biosciences that is fully open access, peer-reviewed. It is a co-venture between Duke University, Harvard University Law School, and Stanford University, and published by Oxford University Press.
This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, grant agreement No 771509. All project outputs are published Open Access. Website photo credit: Matt Lincoln Photography
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