| More

The view of the coronavirus pandemic response through the lens of political philosophy: Utilitarianism and the Rawlsian approach

Views: 1990 Downloads: 487
Dawid Aristotelis Fusiek
Dawid Aristotelis Fusiek


The paper discusses the moral justification of the adoption of the restriction measures during the coronavirus pandemic, and attempts to connect it with the notion of human rights and freedom. The popular Western response falls in the line of the work of John Rawls and his perception of justice and fairness. The premise of Rawlsian approach is that the state has a duty to protect everyone as they themselves would wish to be protected. However, as the time has progressed, the outcomes of the lockdown has begun to become visible, hence challenging the initial Rawlsian view of the issue at stake. Under the new circumstances, the political theory of utilitarianism seems to be gaining ground, but in its most brutal form. Dismissing the roots of the utilitarian theory, the utilitarian calculus has been used as a sophism by politicians for the introduction of the notion of “sacrifice” for the greater good.  By the presentation and application of the two approaches, in the face of a future reemergence of similar problem, this paper argues for the adoption of a combining approach that covers the concerns of both and answers the moral dilemmas that have emerged from this period of quarantine.

Λέξεις κλειδιά

coronavirus; pandemic; covid-19; philosophy; utilitarianism; politics

Πλήρες Κείμενο:

PDF (English)


Bentham, J. and Parekh, B. (1973). Bentham's political thought. London: Croom Helm.

Daalder, M. (2020). “Experts: Latest anti-lockdown paper falls short”, NEWSROOM, 20 April. Available at: https://www.newsroom.co.nz/2020/04/20/1136544/experts-latest-anti-lockdown-paper-falls-short. (Accessed: June 30, 2020).

Drewett, Z. (2020). “Dominic Cummings denies saying it’s ‘too bad’ pensioners will die of coronavirus”, METRO, 23 March. Available at: https://metro.co.uk/2020/03/23/dominic-cummings-denies-saying-bad-pensioners-will-die-coronavirus-12441467/. (Accessed: June 30, 2020).

Goodin, R. E. (1995). Utilitarianism as a public philosophy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (Cambridge studies in philosophy and public policy).

Hart, H. L. A. (1982). Essays on Bentham: studies in jurisprudence and political theory. Oxford Oxfordshire: Clarendon Press.

Knowles, D. (2001). Political philosophy. London: Routledge (Fundamentals of philosophy)

Rawls, J. (2005). A theory of justice. Original edn. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press.

Schneewind, J. B. (1968). Mill; a collection of critical essays. Notre Dame Ind: University of Notre Dame Press (Modern studies in philosophy).

The Economist (2020). “Covid-19 hits Greece even harder than the rest of the euro zone” The Economist. Available at: https://www.economist.com/europe/2020/04/11/covid-19-hits-greece-even-harder-than-the-rest-of-the-euro-zone. (Accessed: June 30, 2020).

WHO (2020). “Timeline of WHO’s response to COVID-19”. Available at: https://www.who.int/news-room/detail/29-06-2020-covidtimeline. (Accessed: June 30, 2020).