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Against Conventional Moral 'Decency'

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"It’s obviously horrible to value the economy over human lives." - Regina Rini echoes a common moral conviction.  I am so deeply baffled by this.  As though "the economy" was nothing but a number on a spreadsheet, mere "corporate profits", disconnected from human lives and livelihoods. (Progressive-approved history textbooks will no doubt have to cut all mention of the Great Depression on grounds that it was no great tragedy, of interest only to fat cats and their cronies.)The real, underlying moral question is instead how we should weigh specifically medical interests against human wellbeing more broadly.  If anything is "obviously horrible", to my way of thinking, it is to claim that nothing matters beyond sheer existence -- that happiness, mental and emotional wellbeing, quality of life, prosperity, and human connection, all count for naught in comparison to keeping our bare biological mechanisms running smoothly.  I think few people would really endorse such a claim on reflection, but it seems to be implied by the unthinking prioritization of "saving lives".Rini eventually concedes that the standard morality play (virtuous protectors of public health vs greedy fat cats) is "a dangerously simplistic gloss on the current situation," and that "the economic consequences of flattening the curve are morally weighty as well."  But she nonetheless reserves her moral outrage for those who are too quick to openly consider such tradeoffs, and concludes that "we show deep disrespect for human life if we rush to find the earliest possible point at which it makes economic sense to throw the vulnerable under the virus."  Here Rini seems to have implicitly returned to her original morality play.  Anyone who actually appreciated the moral weight of people's social and economic interests would not contrast "economic sense" with "throw[ing] the vulnerable under the virus", as though nobody was economically vulnerable.The. . .

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