The Hindu|April 08, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic is reopening several questions that were considered resolved by the end of the last century. It is upending our familiar world that was built over the last century, challenging certitudes that held our sanity. Our life after the pandemic will be defined by at least 10 questions on the prevailing organising principles of humankind.
First, the virus has resurrected the classic utilitarian question in an immediate life and death situation: whether or not, how many, and whose deaths will be acceptable for a greater common good. “I’m sorry, some people will die… that’s life,” declared Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. “You can’t stop a car factory because of traffic deaths,” he said. That an ageing population is an economic burden on society has long become our common sense. There is indeed an incentive in their dying — social Darwinism, the survival of the fittest principle has never been tested this close to the bone. Data will be harvested to debate the relative net utility of different responses to the virus. Was Kerala rational in saving the lives of a nonagenarian couple? What is the balance between economic and social goals?
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April 08, 2020