≡ Menu

Bonus Quotation of the Day…

is from page 39 of Scott Atlas’s 2021 book, A Plague Upon Our House: My Fight at the Trump White House to Stop COVID From Destroying America:

The narrow, poorly thought out, unscientific lockdown policy advocated by the president’s leading experts stunned me. Ignoring the enormous harms of lockdowns, I thought, was profoundly immoral behavior on the part of those in charge of the nation’s health policy. The fundamental obligation of anyone in public health leadership included considering all the potential harms of a policy, not simply trying to stop an infection regardless of other social costs.

DBx: Yes. It is terribly unwise, but not unethical, for an individual – using his or her own resources, and with consequences that are borne exclusively by that person – to pursue one goal obsessively to the exclusion of all others. But it is highly unethical for an individual – using resources belonging to other people, and with consequences borne by others – to demand that everyone pursue one goal obsessively to the exclusion of all others.

This reality applies to any and all goals, even those that would unambiguously and universally be regarded as good if the pursuit of those goals were free. But pursuit of even the finest and most widely accepted goal is not free. And the more intense the pursuit – and the greater the amount of the goal attained – the more costly does further pursuit of that goal become.

Pick any uncontroversially good goal – say, automobile safety. Despite its desirability, there will nevertheless come a point at which a further increasing such safety becomes unwise. There will come a point that, if Jones compels Smith to acquire more automobile safety, Jones acts immorally toward Smith even if this additional safety is both real and is experienced by Smith.

If Jones shows up at neighbor Smith’s door with a gun and forces Smith to buy a brand new top-of-the-line Mercedes, Jones does not escape being criminally liable – or even being justly criticized – if he points out, correctly, that Smith’s chances of being killed or injured while driving the new top-of-the-line Mercedes are lower than are Smith’s chances of being killed or injured if Smith continues instead to drive his 2017 Cooper Mini.


Next post:

Previous post: