Pandemic pondering – 10 new ethical problems emerging from COVID-19

As WA works out how to wind back some of its COVID restrictions without becoming complacent, there are still many important ethical issues that we are grappling with as a society.

The University of Western Australia’s Dr Nin Kirkham, who teaches Critical Thinking, Continental Philosophy and Ethics, helps us hone in on the key issues.

WA is fortunate to be in a low-COVID bubble, while much of the rest of the world battles the COVID storm. How do we deal with the ethical problems that arise from that?

“In some ways, the ‘ethical problem’ of living in WA in a low-COVID bubble is just a more immediate and obvious ethical problem that besets people in western liberal democracies the world over, and people living in WA especially. ‘Why should we have it so good, and be so protected from the hardships and privations that the majority of people in the world face? Why shouldn’t we?’ These are hard questions to answer.”

Who should be involved in making the decision about when we eventually open up our borders again to those from other states and countries?

“Obviously, the decisions will fall to those whose jurisdiction it is, so state borders to the Premiers and their Cabinets in consultation with the Federal Government, international borders to the Prime Minister and Cabinet in consultation with State Premiers. Should there be expert advice taken from virologists, medical experts, economists, advice from the experience of other countries etc? Yes, of course, but ultimately in a representative democracy the decision must be taken by our elected representatives on the best expert advice from the relevant areas.”

How do you weigh up the needs of the health sector (programmed to keep as many people alive as possible and save lives) against the needs of the economy?

/University Release. View in full here.