Coronavirus UK: Self-isolation must not mean self-imprisonment

By | 15th March 2020

In a democratic society, we should be very cautious about allowing the state to encroach on the space for individual decision-making and voluntary actions. This does not mean that states cannot signal preferred choices but that citizens have some freedom to interpret them in the light of their unique knowledge of their own circumstances. Even in a public health crisis, one size does not fit all – and a degree of flexibility may mean better outcomes for everyone….

If the collective goal is to slow disease transmission and divert it from the most vulnerable members of the population, intervention measures must be practical and not fraught with unintended negative consequences. …

We do not need draconian and potentially inhumane interventions to achieve most of the collective goals here, just to consider some fairly basic social and behavioural science questions. Trusting individuals to make their own risk assessments and devise their own solutions is likely to achieve much more than arbitrary and confrontational exercises of state power. Self-isolation must not turn into self-imprisonment.

A Sage Socialsciencespace blog

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