Solidarity and Responsibility in response to Covid-19

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Online event

Solidarity and Responsibility

About this event

A one day workshop at the University of Cambridge, exploring issues around solidarity, responsibility and obligation in response to the Covid-19 pandemic

10-30 - 15-30 (London time); 25th March, 2021

We are pleased to announce a one day workshop with talks from Barbara Prainsack (Vienna); John Coggon (Bristol); Jessica Flanigan (Richmond), as part of the "Rethinking the Ethics of Vaccination" project, funded by the British Academy and hosted at the Department of History and Philosophy of Science, University of Cambridge,

This workshop addresses ethical tensions around notions of solidarity and responsibility which have arised in responses to COVID-19. During the pandemic, the young have had their freedoms restricted mainly for the sake of helping older members of society. As vaccinations are rolled out, there have been questions about whether a strategy of protecting the most vulnerable is the most efficient or effective guide to distributing scarce resources. To a large extent, however, public discourse has tended to downplay the societal tensions inherent in pandemic response. Instead, steps to guard against infection have been presented as both acts of self-interest and civic virtue: in “protecting the NHS” we are both protecting ourselves and others; in not taking a vaccine, we are both acting “irrationally” and posing a threat to others, whether directly, through transmission, or indirectly, through using scarce social resources. Do we have a responsibility not to transmit COVID-19, and how does this relate to proper policy response? How does this responsibility relate to the “opportunity costs” of using scarce social resources? How should we understand the relationships between generations? Are notions of solidarity an important ethical resource, or ways of hiding the tensions inherent in policy? This workshop brings together leading scholars in public health law, ethics and political science to discuss these issues.


10-30 Start

10-45 John Coggon

12-00 Barbara Praisanck

13-15 Break

14-00 Jessica Flaniagn

15-15 Discussion

15-30 End

Titles of talks will be released closer to the date of the workshop. Zoom links will be emailed to those who register for the event.

Further planned events include workshops on

Uncertainty: April 15th 2021

Vaccine hesitancy: April 28th 2021

Populations and individuals: May 12th 2021

Who counts? June 7th 2021

For further details about forthcoming events, please contact the organisers Stephen John or Emma Curran