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How do we think about the UK lockdown debate?
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The role of the state must adapt in times of crisis

UK Premier Boris Johnson is fully representative of this position. Having spent his career deriding state interference in personal affairs, the pandemic finally pushed him to introduce the lockdown. The driving idea here is that wherever you stand on the role of the state, during this extraordinary period of global uncertainty, it must assume control of its people to guide us safely forward. Proponents include UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma.
Coronavirus Government Health Lockdown United Kingdom


The global outbreak of the COVID-19 virus in early 2020 led to national and international measures of social distancing, lockdowns and quarantines. Many governments deemed them to be necessary to combat the pandemic despite these measures entailing a more invasive role of governments.

The Argument

Wherever you stand on the role of the state in the affairs of state, the lockdown is a time to cast away those beliefs. Now more than ever before we need to accept state intervention is our only way out of this. [1] Even if libertarians like Boris Johnson highly value individual freedom and are opposed to so-called “nanny state” laws, the propagation of COVID-19 pushes them to reconfigure their vision of what kind of role the government should take at this time. In such extraordinary situations, the government should take responsibilities by temporarily restricting the individual freedoms of its citizens to better manage the health crisis and reduce the risk of new infections. [1] Despite this shift in the perception of the state during a crisis, Boris Johnson stays committed to his principles and announced that they would only stay in effect as long as it is necessary.

Counter arguments

Even in extraordinary situations, individual liberties and rights of citizens should not be limited. Such interference into the private sphere is unconstitutional. [2]



Desperate times call for desperate measures.


[P1] Values can change in application to different situations. P2] In extraordinary circumstances, one must be able to adapt their set of values to new constraints that a situation may present.

Rejecting the premises

[P1] Values remain constant non-regarding the situations they apply to. P2] In extraordinary circumstances, the set of values one acts by should not be altered.


This page was last edited on Monday, 26 Oct 2020 at 14:46 UTC

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