International Center for Ethics in the Sciences and Humanities (IZEW)

Breathing Time – ethics and the coronavirus

by Regina Ammicht Quinn and Thomas Potthast

30 Mar 2020 · It was January 23, 2020, when a city with 10 million inhabitants was quarantined. Most people in Europe, and also in the team of the Tübingen Ethics Center, had never heard of this city. All this seemed to be very far away: an " foreign epidemic phenomenon" of the "others".

Less than two months later, the entire world is affected. Our everyday life in Europe and Germany, our view of other people and our social structures have also changed massively, at least in parts.

While the interpretation of the crisis was at first exclusively in the hands of virologists in combination with politicians with an affinity for media, the discussion has now become more diverse. And at its core, it always revolves around what is also the core of our craft at the Tübingen Ethics Center: it is about questions of solidarity and justice, freedom and security, concern and care. At the same time, it is about scientific results and their legitimacy and authority, about knowledge and opinion and faith, about the material and non-material foundations of life, about rationalities and emotions. Ultimately, it is about responsibility and about what a thoroughly understood Good Life could be in times of a pandemic.

We have decided to publish texts by the staff of the Tübingen Ethics Center. These will be texts covering the spectrum from everyday observations to more scientifically oriented contributions to debates. Like the Ethics Center as a whole, they are interdisciplinary and put the ethical questions of the everyday exceptional situation in the foreground. They are intended to contribute to giving time for reflection in the midst of agitation and fears, arrangements and contradictions.

We are interdisciplinary ethicists, and we do not have ready-made instructions for action in drawers or on desktops. We look at the world with curiosity and care and use normative knowledge for our thinking and writing.

Now is no time for reflection pauses.

Welcome to our blog: "Breathing Times".

Regina Ammicht Quinn and Thomas Potthast