We can't predict whether Covid 19 virus will live with us for many years. So wearing mask, hand sanitising and social distancing are compulsory to protect ourselves from this pandemic.

Two likely approaches regarding these precautionary measures:

  1. Everybody who is standing near me is a virus carrier. I must not be transmitted this disease from them. So I must follow all the precautionary measures.

  2. I don't know whether I am virus carrier or not. Nobody must be transmitted this disease from me. So I must follow all the precautionary measures.

Both these approaches will protect us from this disease. But their social impact in future would be different indeed, I believe.

enter image description here - For a peaceful society, would the former one be more helpful than the latter one? If so, how? - Is there any better approach than these?

I believe choosing a good philosophical approach has great significance especially while exhorting citizens in the scenario of suffering and loss.

  • 1
    Wearing a mask, other than N-95, does not protect one from getting the virus, so under 1 "follow all the precautionary measures" does not follow. And generally, when people are not afraid for themselves the incentive to follow something onerous is much diminished. So these approaches do not attain the same goal at all, and early reopenings with scarce testing and rather loose precautions show that 2 is not being practiced much. A better approach is to get a vaccine or cure, so we do not have to rely on something as flimsy as people's personal ethics. – Conifold May 21 at 17:35
  • This question is not about N-95 mask, gloves, hospital suit etc. Laymen do not need all these things. This is about two approaches/attitudes. In both case I am the person who takes all the precautionary measures. If so the first effect will be the same. But eventually the attitude of people will become different. – SonOfThought May 22 at 4:11
  • I did not vote to close, but there are two problems with the post as is. First, the presuppositions about the consequences of ethical choices are too far removed from reality to set up a credible dilemma. And second, "better society" is in the eye of the beholder, and there is no indication as to how this betterness is to be judged. I do think that there might be an interesting question about utility of adopting more egoistic vs more altruistic behavior during this pandemic, but it would help to remove the unrealistic "same goal" and to spell out how this utility is to be evaluated. – Conifold May 22 at 5:15
  • @Conifold: My comments were not addressed to any one. The first one was only an explanation. Sorry, I can't agree with this remark: "the presuppositions about the consequences of ethical choices are too far removed from reality to set up a credible dilemma." I shall change the word "better" if it confuses you. Thanks. – SonOfThought May 22 at 6:09
  • Changing "better" to "more helpful" does not really help to understand what is meant. You offer two ethical maxims and postulate that they lead to the same consequences in behavior. Let's assume that is so for the sake. But utility of actions in ethics is typically taken to depend only on their consequences, so on what basis should one or the other maxim be judged "better" or "more helpful" if the consequences are the same? – Conifold May 22 at 21:59

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