Am I Responsible?

Posted by nsnelson 1 week, 6 days ago to Ask the Gulch
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I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.

If I am sick and contagious, am I responsible for protecting others from me? Objectivism holds that I have the right to live free, up to the point that I violate the rights of another person. If I do something that causes someone else undeserved harm (even accidental, even if I’m unaware), I am in the wrong and liable, correct? Does that include spreading infectious diseases?

The answer to that question might inform Government policy. Quarantine laws protect the healthy from the unhealthy. I think this is legitimate. But we ought to be clear on questions about the presumption of innocence here. The Government has been presuming everyone is “guilty” (i.e., contagious), hence the quarantine of “everyone.” (Really not everyone, since there are so many “essential” business exemptions; some animals are more equal, it seems.) If the Government presumes everyone is sick and contagious (even if not symptomatic), it seems there is no limit to their newly discovered “Quarantine Power.” So then they ought to presume that we are healthy until proven otherwise, right? But even preemptive testing for C19 puts me in the position of having to prove my innocence. And yet we know that C19 can be present and infectious without the carrier being aware. How does an Objectivist sort this out? I don’t know the answer.

(Also, I haven’t posted in a while, and I forget if there is a way to search the forums. Apologies if this is a redundant post.)


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  • Posted by sharky701 1 week, 5 days ago
    Simple answer to the 1rst questions I think is this, A DEAD PERSON IS NOT A CUSTOMER, if you have covid-19, and know it, then the prudent course of action would be to NOT infect potential customers/clients, otherwise it could be bad for your long term profits.
    Answer to the 2nd, it's one thing to quarantine the known sick from the public, it's another violate the constitutional rights of the entire country. These mandatory lock-downs seem to be a constitutional conflict of interest, since the government is violating it's own rules by making new rules that say they can violate the existing rules. But one thing to remember, is that the United States of America, is in-fact a corporate business, and anyone with a birth certificate is another piece of it's property, thus not a free person...
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  • Posted by 1 week, 6 days ago
    I suppose it may be helpful to make the question more specific.

    1. Assume I know I have C19 and am contagious. I would think, similar to if I had Aids, I am responsible to not spread it to others, since spreading it violates their right to life. So I should self-quarantine, and this might justify Government quarantine (since one of the jobs of the Government is protecting people against the violation of their natural rights, such as the right to life). Right? Or would you say I am not responsible because it is not intentional, or because it is not me but a virus that is evil (or some other reason for disagreement)?

    2. Now assume I have C19 but unknowingly. If I transmit it unknowingly, unintentionally, accidentally. Does that change the situation? Is that my “fault”? Am I liable?

    One problem we are seeing that bothers me is that the Government quarantine laws are being abused: they are quarantining even healthy people, assuming you are contagious (or at least potentially contagious), in order to restrict your liberty. This feels like a reversal of our principle of innocent until proven guilty. And this is done with no clear criteria of when this became acceptable and when it will end. That is very dangerous.
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    • Posted by edweaver 1 week, 5 days ago
      If I had C19 and was not down and out with it, I would live my life. I would warn people I met if they were vulnerable that I had it and they should protect themselves if they were concerned. C19 is no different than the flu in death rate. May be more infectious but that is not important. Death rate is the only thing that matters. If the death rate was significantly higher to healthy people, then and only then would I change my actions or feel responsible for transmitting.
      We are subjected to thousands of virus and bacteria that can all be lethal every day. We make no big deal about them. C19 is no different, other than the media and the Democrats are scaring the snowflakes.
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  • Posted by Abaco 1 week, 6 days ago
    Protecting others isn't living your life for them. Just my take on it...

    I think the key word in Objectivism is "reasonable". As in "reasonable self interest". You are a thinking person. What is reasonable? It is reasonable to make a great profit selling a product that you know harms people? How about using the government to force people to buy your product? Of course not.

    Interesting question...
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  • Posted by edweaver 1 week, 6 days ago
    No one is responsible for transmitting a disease unless they do so intentionally. i.e. infected with aides and having sex without disclosure. Just because someone is sick doesn't mean they will transmit to others. I've been around many people who are obviously very sick and most of the time never get sick. There is no way that the sick should be blamed or everyone would have to stay in a bubble forever. People are infected and contagious before symptoms show up. I disagree with the analogy that if someone is sick they are to avoid people. We can't live in a bubble and asking government to create a policy is exactly what put us in the position we are now. Rant over.
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    • Posted by 1 week, 6 days ago
      Thank you for answering. I want to agree. But I’m not sure. You’re argument is that I am not liable because the damage caused was not intentional? If I get in a car accident, it is not intentional, it is an accident. But if I’m the one who unintentionally, accidentally broke the laws, I am liable.

      I like your analogy. If I know I’m contagious with Aids, and have sex without disclosure, that is a violation of my partner’s rights. I suppose the same would apply to C19 if I know I’m contagious and don’t tell the person I sneeze on.

      And to clarify, you are saying you disagree with all quarantine laws out of principle, right? (“I disagree....that if someone is sick they are to avoid people.”)
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      • Posted by edweaver 1 week, 6 days ago
        I disagree with most laws because they get abused by people in power. And I do disagree with quarantine laws but do not disagree with being self quarantined. If a person has a disease that is most likely fatal, it would not fit the objectivism standard to pass it to another. C19 is little different than the flu and therefore quarantine is excessive other than staying away from nursing homes or the elderly just like people have been doing for years with the flu.
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