26 January 2022 - 26 January 2022
3:00PM - 4:30PM
PO005 or online via Zoom (to be confirmed via email in advance)
Departmental Research Seminar for students and staff
Our departmental research seminar talks will take place on Wednesdays during term time from 15:00 to 16:30.
Each week an email will be circulated to students with full details of about speaker and the talk taking place (including whether it will be online or in person). Up to date details and information can also be found via the Philosophy Student SharePoint, events section (link here).
This week's speaker is Professor Alex Broadbent from our Department.
Alex is Professor of Philosophy of Science, University of Durham and Visiting Professor of Philosophy, University of Johannesburg.
“Lockdown” has come to designate a cluster of non-pharmaceutical interventions intended to slow or stop Covid-19. One familiar line of objection to lockdowns is libertarian. However, libertarian arguments have not been widely persuasive. This talk offers a critique of lockdown from an egalitarian perspective: specifically, regarding global health inequalities. First, I set out the scientific background of lockdown, explaining how infectious disease epidemiologists shaped the formulation of a binary policy choice in terms of social distancing and then mounted an argument for lockdown option on a global scale. Then I show how the costs of lockdown fall primarily on the global poor, and how the benefits accrue primarily to the global rich. The egalitarian critique then follows. I argue that the widespread occurrence of lockdowns cannot be explained without reference to the aforementioned facts: that is, the fact that they benefit the rich of the world far more, and cost them far less, than they respectively benefit and cost the poor. I then countenance three objections: that (at least early on) lockdowns were merited as precautions (the Precautionary Objection); that they were (at least early on) the only viable course of action (the Better-Than-Nothing Objection); and that they are cannot be said to be bad in general, since they may be good in some places but bad in others (the Context Objection). I conclude that the rapid spread of lockdowns around the world in 2020 fares poorly from an egalitarian perspective.