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The Ethics of Pandemics, 2020

19 December 2022

The rapid spread of COVID-19 has had an unprecedented impact on modern health systems and has led to a number of complex ethical issues. This collection of readings and case studies reviews some of the most pressing of these issues, such as the allocation of ventilators and other scarce resources, the limitation of standard privacy measures for public health reasons, and potential health liabilities.


"An excellent collection of informative and thought-provoking articles on the ethics of pandemics, with a particular focus on COVID-19. The reader is invited to consider the rights and wrongs of unprecedented actions taken (or contemplated) by governments, businesses, health professionals, scientists and citizens. These are sharpened in a series of case studies that highlight obstacles and opportunities ". - Françoise Baylis, University Professor, Dalhousie University

"This collection is essential reading for anyone concerned about ethics during a pandemic. The essays are clear and accessible, and the editor provides useful introductions and keyword glossaries for readers. Highly recommended." - Kelly Oliver, W. Alton Jones Professor of Philosophy, Vanderbilt University

"Meredith Schwartz's edited volume is a must-have for anyone interested in the ethics of pandemics. This timely position is ideal for university students and teachers, providing a collection of powerful but accessible articles organised around what have emerged as the core ethical themes of pandemics. Schwartz has included insightful chapter introductions and reflection questions, ensuring that the text will remain relevant for decades to come. ' - GKD Crozier, Canada Research Chair and Professor, Laurentian University


"An ethical guide to the difficult choices faced by health professionals, politicians, economists, researchers and ordinary citizens during a coronavirus pandemic. Pandemics raise a bewildering array of ethical dilemmas, and the essays and case studies included here are ideal for discussion." - Rob Reich, Professor of Political Science, Stanford University

  • Ethics of a Pandemic includes readings from a distinguished international panel of experts. I am particularly impressed by the range of insights into the social justice problems that the virus has revealed: our inadequate protection of the elderly, the exclusion of the disabled and the much worse health consequences for the less privileged. You must read and discuss this book ". - Laura Shanner, Lecturer in Applied Ethics, University of Vancouver Island