What are the ethics, if any, of limiting another person's agency and personal freedom in the name of mutual protection?
Consider the following example:
- Alice and Bob are partners and both adults.
- Both have an allergy to cats. However, the risk of complications is higher for Alice than it is for Bob.
- Bob decides to limit both their personal freedom, undermining Alice's agency, to avoid contact with cats. He does so under the auspices of protecting them both from harm.
- Alice pushes back, but is ultimately forced to capitulate due to Bob's actions. (Which, arguably, could be described as coercive.)
What's going on here? Specifically:
- Is Bob acting ethically, if we assume he is acting on a genuine belief? (Presumably that changes if Bob is using Alice's condition to his advantage?)
- Is the ethicality affected by:
- The level of risk? (e.g., If the risk of complications is very high, does that justify the means? etc.)
- The nature of Bob's actions used to achieve this goal?
- Is Bob's justification a logical fallacy?
I'm reminded of the Benjamin Franklin quote, "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." I believe this was said in the context of governance, rather than interpersonal relations, but it seems apt.