Why greens love lockdown

by | Feb 5, 2021 | Articles, Spiked

Greens now want harder, longer lockdowns to tackle climate change. Are they mad?

Over the past year, the response to the Covid-19 pandemic has caused untold damage to people’s lives. Discussing whether draconian policies are effective, or whether there may be other ways of managing the crisis, has been muted by angry ripostes – you will be branded a ‘denier’ or a ‘granny-killer’. To disagree is to have blood on your hands.

Read more at Spiked…


  1. James Cox

    I’m not sure what alternative there is to “utilitarian moral arithmetic” in political decision making. Sorry to be pedantic but utilitarianism is not moral in any sense. Utilitarianism and deontological ethics (moral ethics) are two different ethical frameworks. There is not such thing as utilitarian moral arithmetic. Its either moral or its utilitarian. Bentham once described his ideas as moral calculus, but it hasn’t really been described that way since.
    What ethical framework do you suggest they use? Deontological ethics would be unworkable and undesirable as they insist on universalisation. This works for legal frameworks as in theory they apply equally to all citizens.
    Take NICE for example. They have to make decisions on which treatments have enough benefit, considering their effectiveness in relation to their cost, while taking into account the opportunity costs.i.e. how else they could have used the resources. That is about as utilitarian as you can get. Government makes these kinds of decisions every day.

    In practice all political decision making is utilitarian as you are always weighing the costs and benefits. Some philosophers use the term consequentialism, which I find more appropriate.

    • James Cox

      Hey Ben
      How are you doing?

  2. admin

    I think your distinction between utilitarianism and its counterpart is somewhat nuanced and too zealously applied. Of course utilitarianism is moral in at least its own sense, as you point out Bentham (and others) believed it so.

    By ‘utilitarian moral arithmetic’, I mean the tendency of environmentalists (and the rest) to depend on spreadsheets (of their own design) for moral instruction. Thumbs on all the scales, of course. If it helps you see where I’m coming from, in general I think of ‘cheap moral realism’ as a symptom of intellectual bankruptcy or exhaustion.

    NICE is perhaps a more explicit form of rationing.

    All of which is by-the-by, when we see the point in context:

    Rather than seeking to allay unfounded fear, and despite their putative emphasis on ‘The Science’, lockdown hawks capitalised on this overestimation of risk to fuel their cheap, utilitarian moral arithmetic.

    I don’t claim there is any rigour or method to it, or any functional application. Only doomism. Because ultimately anything can be justified on the basis of ‘saving the planet’. As I point out:

    But a climate lockdown would be forever. And in order to sustain it, the green misanthropes would need to take even greater liberties with the facts and stats.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published.