The Conversation: Prof. Collins Proposes 3 Virtues Necessary for an Ethical Pandemic Response

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BUSSW social welfare policy professor Mary Collins makes the case for ‘virtue ethics’ in The Conversation.

Excerpted from “3 moral virtues necessary for an ethical pandemic response and reopening” by Mary E. Collins and Sarah B. Garlington:



The health and economic impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are not equally felt. From the United States to Brazil and the United Kingdom, low-wage workers are suffering more than others and communities of color are most vulnerable to the virus.

Despite the disparities, countries are reopening without a plan to redress these unequal harms and protect the broader community going forward. Our ethics research examines the potential for using virtues as a guide for a more moral coronavirus response.

Virtues are applied morals – actions that promote individual and collective well-being. Examples include generosity, compassion, honesty, solidarity, fortitude, justice and patience. While often embedded in religion, virtues are ultimately a secular concept. Because of their broad, longstanding relevance to human societies, these values tend to be held across cultures.

We propose three core virtues to guide policymakers in easing out of coronavirus crisis mode in ways that achieve a better new normal: compassion, solidarity and justice. []

Read the full article in The Conversation.