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Lessons from COVID-19 VIII: The State

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Image Credit The philosophical debate over the power and purpose of the state is an ancient one but COVID-19 provides a new. Responding to a pandemic effectively requires a robust state and the emergency can be used to warrant an expansion of the state’s power. While such an expansion can be warranted, there concerns about such expansions, and people should resist setting aside their critical faculties in the heat of a crisis. One concern is the pandemic (or any crisis) will be used expand the power of the state to infringe upon liberty without having a positive impact on the crisis. While a crisis tends to claim reason as an early victim, the expansion of state power to protect us should always be carefully considered in terms of their negative impact on liberty and the effectiveness of the expansion in keeping us safe. An expansion that does not make us safer is clearly unjustified—we would be a paying a price in lost liberty in return for nothing. If the expansion does make us safer, then it becomes a matter of considering the benefits of the expansion in balance with the cost. As would be expected, people will differ a great deal when they weigh the benefits and costs. For example, someone who is very afraid of the threat will have a rather different assessment than someone who thinks the threat is minor or even a hoax. As another example, someone who greatly values a specific liberty (say the right to keep and bear arms) will see matters rather differently from someone who does not value (or even opposes) that liberty.  While a rational assessment of such expansions will always have a strong subjective factor in play, it is essential to have an honest consideration of the facts. Unfortunately, misinformation and disinformation often come into play in such assessments. And, of course, emotions tend to have a negative impact on assessment. While a rational assessment of expanding the power of state is always important, it is even more important in. . .

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News source: A Philosopher's Blog

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