Everything You Don’t Need to Know About Coronavirus

Coronavirus Roundup, Part 1

This is the first installment of what will be a two-part coronavirus roundup. The second part will be loaded with facts and practical advice for the period or re-opening that is just starting, but in this first part, I want to revisit some of the philosophical issues, because there have been a lot of attempts to muddle them.

The debate over how to deal with the COVID-19 outbreak has taken something of a wrong turn, with many conservatives (and more than a few Objectivists) defining it as an issue of freedom versus authoritarianism.

This is what I think is called a category error—a fundamental miscategorization that causes you to ask all the wrong questions and therefore get all the wrong answers.

That’s why I’ve been insisting that the right approach to this issue does not begin with politics but with metaphysics, and by metaphysics, I mean the basic conditions of reality established by the nature of the virus. That makes this a scientific issue before it is a political issue, and whether or not a particular government order or practice should be viewed as improper or as some form of oppression depends in large part on the scientific basis for that action.

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