Revista de Filosofie Aplicata 3 (Supplementary Issue):69 - 81 (2020)

Noemi Magnani
University of Hertfordshire
In a series of reflections published in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis, Giorgio Agamben expresses a number of concerns related to the way the pandemic has altered the very fabric of our societies, potentially changing it forever. While maintaining a certain scepticism towards the threat represented by the virus itself, Agamben claims that the response to the contagion shows how easy it is for authorities to limit individual freedoms in the name of public health, and how readily they are willing to put such limitations in place. At the same time, the pandemic shows how easy it is for individuals to accept this situation as the new normal, and how readily they are willing to give up their freedoms and relationships. In this paper I offer a brief overview of Agamben’s worries, focussing on two issues in particular: the loss of individual freedom of movement and association, and the moral and political implications of social distancing. I then approach these issues from a different angle, making use of relational theory to propose an alternative framework which relies on the notion of vulnerability. While agreeing with Agamben that there is reason to worry about the state seizing the opportunity to exercise unchecked power over its citizens, I argue that we should pay attention to the ways in which social distancing measures can be grounded in solidarity and respect for the autonomy of vulnerable individuals.
Keywords Agamben  vulnerability  autonomy  freedom  solidarity  relational theory  pandemic  public health  social distancing  Covid-19
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

State of Exception.Giorgio Agamben - 2004 - University of Chicago Press.
Republicanism.Philip Pettit - 2000 - Mind 109 (435):640-644.
Liberty.Isaiah Berlin (ed.) - 2002 - Oxford University Press.
The Autonomous Life: A Pure Social View.Michael Garnett - 2014 - Australasian Journal of Philosophy 92 (1):143-158.

View all 8 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Relational Ethical Approaches to the COVID-19 Pandemic.David Ian Jeffrey - 2020 - Journal of Medical Ethics 46 (8):495-498.
Surging Solidarity: Reorienting Ethics for Pandemics.Jordan Pascoe & Mitch Stripling - 2020 - Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal 30 (3):419-444.
Solidarity in the Time of COVID-19?Floris Tomasini - 2021 - Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics 30 (2):234-247.
Vietnam’s Response to the COVID-19 Outbreak.Sanja Ivic - 2020 - Asian Bioethics Review 12 (3):341-347.
Political Solidarity, Justice and Public Health.Meena Krishnamurthy - 2013 - Public Health Ethics 6 (2):129-141.


Added to PP index

Total views
24 ( #452,382 of 2,446,657 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
13 ( #51,573 of 2,446,657 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes