Pandemic and Human Relations

Moral Considerations in the Time of COVID-19.

Onset of the project: March 2022
Conclusion: February 2025

Could the Covid-19 pandemic be creating new types of bonds in human relationships?

Living in pandemic times is like having the Sword of Damocles hanging above our necks every day. We are experiencing significant changes in our relationships–family, professional, social and even religious. Answering the question above (about new types of bonds) requires an understanding that the moral elements of our relationships are varied. And while a wide range of philosophical discussions have mapped some moral issues related to the pandemic, one thing that seems to have been overlooked is that human relations themselves have a prominent place as an object of study. We must unpack what we call pandemic relationships to fully understand the implications of these new (temporary or otherwise) social dynamics in our moral lives. 

Our intention with this project is to analyze how our relationships during pandemic times shape our moral relationships. As the title suggests, the project focuses on three main points: emotions, rationality, and character traits. The first and second points can be seen as a Janus-faced phenomenon. As we focus on emotions, we will explore pandemic relationships based on their emotional contours. We examine the concepts of selfishness and altruism in order to understand their nuances, and we discuss the peculiarities of human interactions tormented by Covid-19. And finally, fear and anger will be considered as having a negative valence in social interactions. They will be examined from political and psychological perspectives to increase our understanding of individuals’ adherence to populism in the context of COVID-19. 

Next, we focus on rationality–specifically the rationality of actions taken in extreme situations. The conditions of moral agency and the processes of making  rational and non-rational decisions are highlighted. Moral philosophers also need to address some responses to the rational denier, whose existence is not mere fiction in times of attacks on science. Even situations that could previously be considered common, such as washing hands before eating lunch at a restaurant or keeping a respectful distance from others, are now painted in bold colors in philosophical discussions and morals. As COVID-19 shifts the natural dynamics of our considerations, it puts pressure on the rationality (instrumental or not) of our choices in risky situations. 

Finally, we will consider the role that character traits play in shaping the moral quality of our relationships in times of pandemic. The isolation and social distance caused by the pandemic can profoundly affect our moral, political, and legal convictions.