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Fun With Morality! Or: It's Complicated (5.5.20)

The debate these days is whether the economy should be reopened, but of course it was never entirely shut down. For an orderly stay-at-home situation to even be possible, parts of the economy still have to function -- shipping, food-chain related industries, medical facilities, utility companies, emergency responders, etc.

The people in those "essential" jobs still have to circulate, and articles such as this one suggest that they're accounting for a large number of new infections even as lockdowns persist. Then they're taking the infection home and giving it to their families.

So is there a moral dilemma in calling for continued lockdowns in the name of saving lives?

If person X feels they can only be safe via a system that exposes essential worker Y to increased risk of infection and death, is person X implicitly placing a higher value on their own life?

One widely spread notion is that you have a moral responsibility to protect the people who MIGHT eventually be in a chain of infection that you started. If you want essential person Y to put himself at risk to keep you safe, would you still be responsibile to the people in a chain of infection started by person Y? (If someone asks, "which family member are you willing to lose to this virus," does that have the underlying premise that my family member is more important than the grandma of the checkout lady at Safeway?)

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