UCL European Institute


The Philosophy of Public Health: From Coronavirus to the Neglectful State

21 April 2020

What can a philosopher tell us about COVID-19?

James Wilson ISOE

James Wilson, Professor of Philosophy at UCL's Department of Philosophy, explores major philosophical public health questions that are more relevant than ever after the coronavirus, including: What does it really mean to have a "human right" to health? How should states weigh the protection of health against the value of liberty and economic activity? 

Professor Wilson has also recently finished a book, Beyond the Neglectful State, which aims to shift discussion of public health away from the fear of paternalism and the "Nanny State." In it, Professor Wilson argues that what we have most reason to fear is a state that allows people to come to harm when it could easily have prevented this. 

The video was produced with Dr Graham Riach of Oxford University. Professor Wilson has also authored a blog post on the topic of "Philosophy and public policy: Lessons from COVID-19" for the European Institute's Europe Blog.

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