Philosophy and the pandemic response of the state

Deontology is the moral theory that an action is right or wrong depending on the nature of the act itself. It is often presented as the counterpoint to consequentialism, which holds that an action is right or wrong depending on the consequences. Over the course of the coronavirus pandemic, the response of the Michigan Governor’s office and the presidential administrations have been hotly contested in social media, the news, the legislature, and the court of law. In spite of the Supreme Court of Michigan deciding that the governor was both acting unconstitutionally and using a law unconstitutionally, the MDHHS immediately after, carried on every order in lockstep with the Governor’s office. In the absence of a proper legal framework, the Governor has continually used empty philosophical rhetoric to convince Michiganders to accept her position blindly.

Gov. Whitmer uses any argument she can contrive, to justify her power grab and unconstitutional abuse of authority. She blames the failure of her policies, and the harm caused by the pandemic on people who refuse her demands, which is a technique of persuasion called shifting the burden of proof. This compounds the reality that Whitmer has no apparent evidence to back her arguments. She uses philosophy because the law does not allow her to take the authority which she has taken. The Michigan Governor uses a deontological argument to claim it is your duty to wear a mask to protect others, and hastily generalizes with the ontological claim that masks protect the wearer also, in spite of scant evidence for this claim. Whitmer doubles down by saying if you do not do what she says, the consequences will be dire for you personally, and she has disproportionately punished the poor while paying no attention to those who generate high revenue for the state, and voters for the Democratic Party. Whitmer triples her threat in the implication that the people who refuse her demands are irrational actors who do not deserve to have their voices considered. According to four philosophies surveyed, all humans are rational actors, who alone can decide their own actions and apply them as deemed necessary. Categorically denying the voice of at least half the population is unconstitutional and immoral by any system of philosophy. Punishing people further and labeling them as extremists, for their choice to not comply, is the most tyrannical act of the 21st Century.

Joe Biden is the first openly Catholic President of the USA, which threatens American values. After all, Americanism was defined as a heresy by Pope Leo 13 in 1899, as the Catholic agenda is one of submission to authority. Biden has launched an anti-American agenda, as federal legislation has moved forward which is designed to withhold money from states and communities whose taxes fund the government, for failure to abide by pandemic restrictions. All the while, the Biden Administration maintains, that the GOP’s withholding of school funds to oppose pandemic restrictions is inhumane and unjustifiable. The number of contradictions and ironies to the narrative of the federal government and the state of Michigan, all but validate the disguised intent of politicians paid by lobbyists who have made billions in revenue due to the enforced response to the pandemic. The ultra-rich in Michigan last year, have contributed to a 2.6-billion-dollar surplus for the state, in spite of projected losses for 2020. This appears to be profiteering off a state of emergency, which is illegal under current law. The intent of the partnership between business lobbies and government is evidently economic, and not legal or moral in any way.

According to Kant it is wrong to treat people as means to an end. Since masks arguably may not protect the wearer, and yet are pushed because they may protect others, forcing people to wear masks constitutes using those people as means to some end, which is the protection of others. Using people as a means to an end is unethical according to Kant because people are ends themselves. To use yourself or another person as a means, is unethical according to Kant. Kant required that for an action to be ethical it must be willed by each rational actor, to become a universal law. Kant writes on this, “whatever is deduced from the particular natural characteristics of humanity, from certain feelings and propensions, nay even, if possible, from any particular tendency proper to human reason, and which need not necessarily hold for the will of every rational being; this may indeed supply us with a maxim, but not with a law; with a subjective principle on which we may have propension or inclination to act, but not with an objective principle on which we should be enjoined to act, even though all our propensions, inclinations, and natural dispositions were opposed to it.”

For the enforcement of masks to become law, is unethical according to Kant’s words here. If one were to apply Kant’s Categorical Imperative regarding wearing masks, we appear to find that everyone in the world wearing masks properly, is not feasible or attainable by all or even many. Wearing and taking off a mask properly is not something I’ve observed in society, though I don’t frequent hospitals. It truly appears that, of the people who wear masks, most people reuse masks and do not dispose of them after each use. The cost of wearing masks daily, as a single-use item, per month, per person, is at least $30 USD. It is simply impossible for everyone to abide by mask mandates, and the poor disproportionately so. Therefor mask wearing should not be mandated for even one person, according to Kant’s reasoning.

According to Mill, the consequences of an act are the important thing. The consequences of the entirety of the pandemic response enforced by the state, have been disastrous, and has disproportionately and negatively affected the poor and minority groups.  The consequence of punishing people over wearing masks causes them to fake it until they make it, which increases their chances of being infected greatly. The ones who get punished for non-compliance become the ones who did not fake it hard enough, rather than those who actually did the wrong thing. Punishing people for what they cannot afford to do, or have no inclination to do, with fines, is unethical because it causes a great suffering to a great many people who are suffering already. Reserving immunity for a new ruling class through the establishment of exemptions, resembles a New Feudalism and undermines every important American value and law. Governor Whitmer’s actions have benefitted the State, rich billionaires, and big businesses monetarily. These groups represent a very small portion of the population. The majority of the population is being essentially enslaved, which means more people are unhappy than those that are happy. Mill says humans are rational actors and that they must personally weigh the consequences of their decisions before acting. The consequences of lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions are not ethical by the standards of Mill.

Domain Ontology is a science of being, and describes the relationships between concepts, data, and entities. Michigan’s Governor has consistently fallen back on claims of the best science, and making decisions based on the data, but that data is not made available to the public or any organization seeking to corroborate the State’s claims. Recently, the Michigan university staff responsible for the alleged science which informed the decisions of the policy of the State, was sued to produce documents that it had not provided promptly or adequately, to FOIA requests. The documents produced through the lawsuit revealed many blacked out sections of paper. More recently, the news reported that a decision has been made on the national level, that death statistics over Coronavirus are not to be made available as public information, and they have not thus far due to claims of privacy infringement. The public has been told to sit and wait, simply trusting the reporting done by the State, because the information behind policy has been withheld at every turn. The narrative of the State of Michigan and the Biden Administration are devoid of valid, scientific information, relying on the power of rhetoric to persuade people into relinquishing their civil rights willingly.

In Aristotle’s Virtue Ethics, courage lay between recklessness and cowardice. His Golden Mean describes a balance between excess and deficiency. People who follow virtue ethics are not told what to do, but in becoming principled people, Aristotle proposes they will naturally make the best decision in any given circumstance. The State’s pandemic response certainly errs on the side of cowardice, while being reckless in other ways. On the one hand, poor people are ordered to cower indoors at the cost to their health, economies, civil rights, and liberties. On the other hand, the ultra-rich enjoy unlimited exclusion from the rules set for “non-essential” people, and have reaped profits in the billions collectively. The US and Michigan Constitutions and the Libertarian Platform call for all citizens to be treated equally under the law, and the MDHHS continued orders are just a new way to abuse the rights of citizens suffering during a state of emergency, for at least the sake of profit, if not some further diabolical intent.

The narrative of the state is inconsistent with one philosophy, rather seeking to cover three major bases, using arguments from Ontological, Deontological (Kantian) and Consequentialist (Utilitarian) systems. This represents a glaring inconsistency of the State’s narrative, because one house cannot be built on three very different foundations. Furthermore, these philosophical systems evidently do not support the house built by the State’s narrative. The Governor’s Office seems intent on saying anything and everything to convince you they have authority, which in fact they do not have. The State has worked in the background to make the Governor’s policy into law, depending on the majority of citizens submitting to the philosophy behind them for the meantime. The state’s policies foster conditions whereby different Michiganders are treated differently under the law, and the Constitution of Michigan expressly prohibits this. The Supreme Court of Michigan should weigh in on the constitutionality of continuing the unconstitutional actions of the governor, under a subsidiary agency to the governor’s office, and hopefully protect Michiganders from this overreach of executive power and gross miscarriage of justice. The Supreme Court of the USA should do the same, for all Americans protected under law and the Constitutions, and reign in executive power before that window of opportunity closes.

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