Blog #53: Too Real

  • Blog 53: Read up to page 5 of the following pdf stopping at “Bentham’s Panopticon…” How does this reading connect to the world’s response to covid 19? What ethical system, if any, is at work? What imperfect society is best equipped to carry these procedures out and why? https://muse.jhu.edu/article/252435/pdf (Links to an external site.)

How does this reading connect to the world’s response to covid 19?

“First, a strict spatial partitioning: the closing of the town and
its outlying districts, a prohibition to leave the town on pain of
death, the killing of all stray animals; the division of the town
into distinct quarters, each governed by an intendant. “

Page 1

The response to Covid-19 has also been to close things down and have people remain in their respected quarters. In addition, people’s identities are now often defined by their disease. The stigma that surrounds lepers in the reading surrounds people with Coronavirus as well. When somebody even suspects that their peer may have the virus, their perspective on them shifts to a negative and fearful one. People are so scared of becoming sick that they don’t see those infected as people. They simply see them as diseased.

What ethical system, if any, is at work?

“The registration of the pathological must be constantly centralized. The relation of each individual to his disease and to his death passes through the representatives of power, the registration they make of it, the decisions they take on it.”

Page 2

This is a form of Classical Utilitarianism (in any given situation, you should choose the action that produces the greatest good for the greatest number). Society’s rulers are trying to contain the virus and ensure the safety of the majority, even if that means outcasting those who are infected. They are also sacrificing some small parts of everyone’s freedom (keeping people inside) so that everyone can receive more important benefits in the long run like good health.

What imperfect society is best equipped to carry these procedures out and why?

“Inspection functions ceaselessly. The gaze is alert everywhere:
‘A considerable body of militia, commanded by good officers
and men of substance’, guards at the gates, at the town hall and
in every quarter to ensure the prompt obedience of the people
and the most absolute authority of the magistrates, ‘as also to
observe all disorder, theft and extortion’”

Page 2

Timarchy is best equipped to carry out these procedures because they are the society most focused on utilizing military strength to enforce rules. They are driven mainly by spirit and courage which is what is being shown by the militia in the reading. People are not only supposed to fear the virus, but they are meant to fear the consequences the military will impose if they are not compliant with quarantine regulation.

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