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Justifiable discrimination? on Cameron et al’s proportionality test
  1. Sherry Kao
  1. Philosophy Department, Georgetown University, Washington, DC, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sherry Kao, Philosophy, Georgetown University, Washington, DC 20057, USA; yk652{at}georgetown.edu

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With increasing inoculations and emerging coronavirus variants, governments worldwide are challenged to adopt proper liberty-restricting measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and minimise grave consequences for liberty and well-being caused by over a year-long pandemic. Cameron et al’s proposal of a selective strategy addresses this pressing issue.1 Following Savulescu and Cameron, they argue for limiting the liberty of the elderly. But, instead of claiming not doing so is an instance of wrongful levelling down equality, they argue this discriminative strategy is morally acceptable.2 I argue against the selective liberty-restrictive measures after proposing a revision of the five-limb proportionality test that plays a pivotal role in supporting their argument.

The following is a reconstruction of Cameron et al’s central argument:

(P1) It is ethically acceptable to promote the best outcome.

(P2) One way to promote the best outcome is to maximise utility at the population level without imposing unreasonable costs on the most vulnerable individuals. (p7)

(P3) All else being equal, adopting selective liberty-restricting measures in the COVID-19 pandemic is the best way to maximise utility at the population level without imposing unreasonable costs on the most vulnerable individuals.

(P4) If it is ethically acceptable to …

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Footnotes

  • Contributors The author contributed to the conception, analysis, drafting and revising of the manuscript.

  • 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.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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