Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

The Tyranny of the Mask?

Philosophy News image
Leon County in my adopted state of Florida has mandated the wearing of face coverings in indoor, public spaces. There are numerous exceptions to the requirement, such as while exercising (at a distance) and for health reasons. Those who violate the ordinance face an initial $50 fine which increases to $125 and then up to $250. As would be expected, this ordinance has been met with some resistance. For example, there have been posts on social media encouraging businesses to post signs that encourage people to dishonestly use the health exception to avoid wearing masks. As would also be expected, this has been labeled as tyranny by some. This provides an excellent context in which to discuss tyranny and liberty. One obvious challenge in discussing whether imposing a mask requirement is tyrannical is agreeing on a serious definition of “tyranny” that is more than “something I don’t like.” Since American political philosophy is based heavily on John Locke, he is my go-to for defining the term. Locke takes tyranny to be the “exercise of power beyond right.” For him, the right use of power is for the good of the citizens and a leader’s use of power for “his own private separate advantage” is exercising that power “beyond right.” Locke also presents some other key point about tyranny, noting that it occurs when “the governor, however entitled:   Makes his will and not the law the rule Does not direct his commands and actions to the preservation of the properties of his people. Directs them to the satisfaction of his own ambition, revenge, covetousness, or any other irregular passion.”   Does the ordinance, and similar impositions, meet the definition? On the face of it, it does not. After all,  the aim of the ordinance seems to be for the good of the citizens: it is aimed at reducing the chances that people will get infected. It is also aimed at allowing businesses and other public places to operate. That is, it is aimed at the preservation of the properties. . .

Continue reading . . .

News source: A Philosopher's Blog

blog comments powered by Disqus