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

Breathing Time – An ethics blog in times of the Corona pandemic

In recent months, the world as we know it has changed. While the crisis was initially interpreted exclusively by virologists in combination with politicians with an affinity for media, the discussion has now become multifaceted. At its core, it always revolves around what is also the core of our craft at the Tübingen Ethics Center: questions of value. As interdisciplinary ethicists, we do not have ready-made instructions for action in drawers or on desktops. But we look at the world with curiosity and care and use normative knowledge for our thinking and writing. Nevertheless, we would like to contribute to current debates and have decided to publish texts by the staff of the Tübingen Ethics Center. The texts will cover the spectrum from everyday observations to more scientifically oriented contributions to the debate. Like the Ethics Centre as a whole, they are interdisciplinary and focus on the ethical questions of the exceptional situation that is becoming commonplace. They are intended to contribute to giving time for reflection in the midst of agitation and fears, arrangements and contradictions. Now is no time for reflection pauses! Welcome to our blog: "Breathing Time":

Regina Ammicht Quinn and Thomas Potthast

This blog is intended to stimulate discourse, and in this sense we welcome suggestions, criticism and letters from readers. You can use the contact form for this purpose.

02 June 2020 

The end of the small parties?

Germany offers voters a wide range of different parties. In order to be eligible to stand in elections, however, a party must either already be represented in German parliaments or collect enough signatures from supporters. The latter has become practically impossible due to the pandemic. Is there a threat of a loss of heterogeneity and diversity in our democracy?


26 May 2020

Harry Potter in Corona times

Chancellor Angela Merkel repeatedly urges caution in her handling of the Corona crisis. She was also only cautiously optimistic when announcing significant relaxation of the corona protection measures ( May 6). The background to this is a debate that has been going on intensively for some time: Does the protection of life come before all other valuable goods, above all freedom or dignity?


19 May 2020

What we talk about

- and what (or with whom) we should talk. "Children's summits instead of car summits" is the pointed demand of the German politician Dietmar Bartsch. Because children are, besides women and families, the "losers of the crisis". Since a few days the schools have opened their doors again. At least for the graduating classes, lessons should be made possible again - after all, exams are imminent or have already begun in some federal states. In many kindergartens, emergency care has also been slightly expanded and even playgrounds are now being reopened. In short: Children are, apart from the new start of the national football leagues, the focus of the social corona discussion. On closer inspection, however, this does not seem to be quite the case. The negotiation of needs that are diverse among children, not only because of different age groups, is given little consideration in the opening debate.


12 May 2020

Children as or in danger?

The anti-corona measures have shaken our coexistence, sense of security and social norms of behaviour. This is particularly unsettling and stressful for children and young people. This article critically reflects on the possible effects of social distancing, school closures and ascriptions of danger on children's development and understanding of values and draws attention to a hitherto blind spot in the debate.


28 May 2020

Global crisis(s): Covid-19 and the human-animal relationship

The current pandemic raises many questions of interpersonal ethics. Beyond that, however, it also highlights an existing human-animal relationship, which - as the following remarks show - is problematic in many respects and requires a different, 'interspecies ethics'.


20 May 2020

On political action

Politicians are in a dilemma due to the corona pandemic. It has to take effective measures without having all the information available and without knowing exactly what the consequences will be. At the same time, there is a lot of resentment from parts of the population against the decisions that have been taken. Perhaps the current situation also offers the chance to make politics more transparent and thus to counteract the trend of alienation that has existed since before Corona.


14 May 2020

Traumatic memories

In the current situation caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, dealing with the effects of the restrictions is omnipresent, both in private conversations and in the media. But what memories of this period will remain for us after the crisis, and what influence will these memories have on our future lives? Are parts of society experiencing a potential collective trauma precisely because of this exceptional situation that we will have to remember and process for years to come?


07 May 2020

Triaging Discrimination?

While ethical questions about the fairness of triage situations have surfaced during the Coronavirus pandemic, an important aspect is often overlooked: Historical inequalities and structural discrimination have left some groups significantly under-resourced to tackle the health crisis, and, in many instances, they are more likely to contract and fall seriously ill from the virus. As a result, some of those groups have a higher likelihood to be subjected to triage decisions. This raises the question whether the triage rules are “compounding” (Hellman 2018) prior injustices – and thereby may be fair but unjust