Should we limit our freedom to help others?

Patrick O’Callaghan
Matheo Moran
Oliver Walsh

Transition Year
CBS Secondary School, Mitchelstown, Co. Cork 

There are different forms of freedom: the Freedom of thought, the Freedom to express an opinion through any media and the Freedom of movement, as stated in the UDHR by the UN. These are human rights. Firstly, we are going to talk about the communitarian view on the coronavirus, secondly, how limiting our freedom helps fight the coronavirus, and finally, how we could overcome the problems associated with these freedoms. 

We believe we should limit our freedom to help others. The coronavirus is currently affecting everyone, be it getting the virus, or being limited to a radius around your home. I believe the communitarian view is the best solution to this crisis. Michael Waltzer is a communitarian philosopher. In this case sacrificing our freedom is helping others who may be more susceptible to death from the disease. Communitarians see the welfare of society or communities to be the main principle of political decision-making, and prioritise the public interest over the liberties of individual citizens. The libertartian view on this crisis is to not limit your freedom and to move around as you please. In crises like these you cannot put personal happiness before others, especially those who are more vulnerable to the disease. Everybody has the right to live and if others need to sacrifice their freedom for a period of time, that is what needs to be done. If there is a pandemic that can lead to death, everything else must come second. It's not fair to put other responsible lives at risk just because some people feel that their personal happiness is more important than others. 

Nearly all countries are now in lockdown, due to the pandemic it is hard to compare between each country. One country that opted to put early measures in place to stop the pandemic from spreading was Taiwan. Taiwan, which is very close to China, where the first outbreak of Coronavirus was recorded, has a population of 23.78 million people. The country observed China's Coronavirus cases which started in early December. Taiwan acted immediately to prepare for cases in their country. People were tested when arriving into airports and were tested when arriving to big buildings like post offices and banks. Taiwan had all the appropriate protective supplies to reduce the risk of spread of the Coronavirus. All this leads to Taiwan only having had 440 cases of Coronavirus and only 7 deaths. This when compared to almost any other country is staggering. This shows that limiting people's freedom to slow down the spread of the virus can work. 

The 3 freedoms mentioned should not be ignored during the SARS-CoV-2 crisis and there are ways to allow these rights to be granted to most people. It is easy for the first 2 to be granted. The Freedom of thought has in no way been restricted by the current situation. The Freedom to express an opinion through any media has only been slightly restricted, people are currently in quarantine in countries throughout the world, meaning they can’t meet with others to express their opinions face-to-face, this is greatly compensated by social media. There are plenty of apps which can be used to portray these opinions through different means such as text, audio and video. News outlets have found many alternative ways to communicate with their audiences. Most have social media accounts and websites and some have taken to broadcasting from home, such as the American News show the “Today Show”. The third freedom, the Freedom of movement has caused the most issues during the current situation. Each country has made their own choice whether or not to restrict movement . In most of the affected countries throughout the world there was or is a lockdown of some sort. Some countries such as France had a strict national lockdown once the virus became a threat, which restricted the movement of people within the country completely. Other countries like Ireland introduced milder national lockdowns, which allowed limited movement. Sweden has decided against restricting movement at all. This tactic seems to have worked in Sweden’s favor. The percentage of infected to total population in Sweden is 0.25% while in France, where there was a strict lockdown, it is 0.21% and, to further improve this point, Ireland has almost double that of Sweden 0.47% of the irish population being infected. This just goes to show that “So lockdown is really any country’s second chance — it’s not an intervention in itself” Dale Fisher chair of WHO. 

In conclusion, although the three freedoms mentioned are all important human rights, there are other ways of granting them currently as mentioned above. At the moment, we believe to have a positive outcome with less deaths, we all need to partially limit these freedoms. 

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