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Total lockdown and fairness towards the sufferer: an egalitarian response to Savulescu and Cameron
  1. Jesús Mora
  1. International Law, Ecclesiastical Law, and Philosophy of Law, Carlos III University of Madrid, Getafe, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jesús Mora, International Law, Ecclesiastical Law, and Philosophy of Law, Carlos III University of Madrid, Getafe, Spain; jesuspmora14{at}


Savulescu and Cameron supported selectively locking down the elderly during the COVID-19 pandemic on two grounds: first, that preserving total lockdown would entail levelling down and, second, that levelling down is wrong. Their first assumption has been thoroughly addressed, but more can be said about their wider antiegalitarian point that levelling down is simply wrong. Egalitarians are not defenceless against the levelling-down objection. Even though some consider it the most serious challenge to supporters of equality, egalitarianism possesses sound reasons to assert, not only that something valuable is preserved when we level down, but also that preserving it may be, in certain circumstances, preferable to pursuing other fundamental moral goals. Although troublesome from a well-being maximising standpoint, levelling down ensures that healthcare policy reflects a commitment with the idea that people are equal in moral worth. That commitment is important enough to trump certain improvements in individual well-being. In the case of pandemic lockdowns, not all the interests protected by free movement are as fundamental as to pursue them at the cost of equality. Savulescu and Cameron’s framework is so reliant on the view that levelling down is wrong that it fails to account for the valuable loss that having the elderly suffer alone represents.

  • COVID-19
  • Ethics- Medical
  • Human Rights
  • Epidemiology

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  • Contributors I am the only contributor to this paper, which is the result of a philosophical research about levelling down during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Funding The author has 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 Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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