How to Handle Trade-Offs in Pandemics


  • Krister Bykvist Stockholm University and Institute for Futures Studies, Sweden



Pandemics and other similar crises force us to make difficult moral trade-offs. It is tempting to think that this challenge should be met by invoking fundamental moral principles. This is a mistake. Instead, we need to work hard at designing institutions that enable the officeholders to make reasonable decisions under both fundamental ethical disagreement and empirical/evaluative uncertainty. It is argued that this is best done by supplementing the ethical-cum-legal platforms already in use with an ethical framework inspired by social welfare theory.

Author Biography

Krister Bykvist, Stockholm University and Institute for Futures Studies, Sweden

Krister Bykvist is a Professor of Practical Philosophy at Stockholm University and a Research Fellow at the Institute for Futures Studies, Stockholm. His research concerns questions about our responsibility for future generations, the foundations of consequentialism, evaluative uncertainty, and the relationship between preferences, value, and welfare. His most recent book is Moral Uncertainty (co-authored with Will MacAskill and Toby Ord), published in 2020 by Oxford University Press.




How to Cite

Bykvist, K. (2021). How to Handle Trade-Offs in Pandemics. Erasmus Journal for Philosophy and Economics, 14(1), 138–151.