What is a just society, and how should we contend with the ethical choices posed by this moment of pandemic and racial reckoning?
This course explores classical and contemporary theories of justice and applies them to the ethical issues raised by the COVID-19 pandemic. For example: Should we be willing to accept a certain number of deaths to re-open economic activity? Should the state use surveillance tracking of citizens to enforce social distancing? Is it wrong to pay people to submit to certain risks, such as testing new vaccines? What, if anything, does the experience of the pandemic suggest about how our economy and society should be organized?
The course addresses debates about equality and inequality, individual rights and the common good, the role of markets and government. Readings from Aristotle, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill, and John Rawls, and articles on contemporary controversies. This course invites and equips students to reflect critically on their moral and political convictions in relation to the pandemic and beyond.