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Lockdown and levelling down: why Savulescu and Cameron are mistaken about selective isolation of the elderly
  1. Jonathan A Hughes
  1. School of Law, Keele University, Keele, Staffordshire ST5 5BG, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jonathan A Hughes, School of Law, Keele University, Keele, Staffordshire ST5 5BG, UK;{at}


In their recent article, ‘Why lockdown of the elderly is not ageist and why levelling down equality is wrong’, Savulescu and Cameron argue for selective isolation of the elderly as an alternative to general lockdown. An important part of their argument is the claim that the latter amounts to ‘levelling down equality’ and that this is ‘unethical’ or even ‘morally repugnant’. This response argues that they fail to justify either part of this claim: the claim that levelling down is always morally wrong is subject to challenges that Savulescu and Cameron do not consider; and a policy of maintaining general lockdown does not constitute levelling down, as it provides absolute benefits to those who would be worse off under selective isolation.

  • public health ethics
  • public policy

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  • Contributors JAH is the sole author and contributor.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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