Protocols: a moral duty of solidarity. Nota El Cronista

Versión en castellano

The war against the invisible enemy of the pandemic has only one defensive shield: prevention protocols.  As evidence has showed, it is an individual duty, and also the duty of each family and society as a whole, under the dubiously effective surveillance mechanisms by the State at the municipal, provincial and national levels, through health officers, police and enforcement authorities.

Article by Julián A. de Diego published in El Cronista on September 1, 2020

Society is governed by regulations imposing a specific conduct for force majeure as a result of COVID 19.

Those who do not take all possible measures to avoid infection not only hurt themselves and their family and acquaintances, but also become an accomplice of the enemy acting as virus carriers by willful intent or gross negligence.

Some ridiculous acts of arrogance and irrationality prove it. Novak Djokovic, Serbian tennis player who is currently ranked world No. 1 in men’s singles tennis by the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) showed off and spoke out against mandatory preventive measures and vaccine, and a few days later tested positive for Covid-19 and had to temporarily withdraw from pro circuit tournaments. Contrary to caution, during the Adria tour, Djokovic did not hesitate to post photos of many crowded meetings on social media, without observing the recommended safe social distancing; he did not wear a mask or any face covering, and even posted several images and footages of a football match in which he and other friends were hugging and handshaking, and also a private dinner party, where several tennis players were seen dancing and singing together like in «normal» times. While several sports are played without fans, Djokovic invited thousands of spectators to his exhibition show, with the endorsement of the government of his country, as it was officially recognized. Against any recommended health and safety protocols around the world, this action led to a wave of infection, chains of transmission among athletes, their staff and the general public.

Compliance with protocols, whether privately at home, on the street or while going to work, in public or private transportation, common areas, health care centers and leisure or recreational facilities, is a duty of conduct that must be observed by each individual, a moral duty based on the principle of good faith.

Strictly speaking, the moral obligation it is the pressure that «reason» exerts on «will», when faced with a requirement imposed by a given «value”. For example, values include honesty, loyalty, cultural identity, respect, responsibility, solidarity, love for your neighbor, tolerance, sincerity, gratitude, industriousness, transparency, which are fundamental pillars for peaceful co-existence, life in society.

Therefore, personal morality does not stem from pressure from State authority, society, the subconscious, or fear of punishment.

The moral obligation is not the obligation that is felt by external pressure, or even the subconscious. The basis of this obligation is the use of reason when faced with a given value.

The moral duty refers not only subjective but also objective obligations because the law is an expression of values based on reasoning, what ought to be.

The very law makes individuals, who are guided by right reason, to feel obligated to comply, based on the right conduct in society. Hence, the mandatory nature of law, as a norm or rule of conduct, a typical attribute arising out of the value it expresses.

In other words, through reasoning people transcend the level of facts and events, and perceive the value of the law, which imposes an obligation or requirement of reason, without underestimating free will or autonomy. But intelligence exerts pressure, without suppressing free will (from the Latin ad arbitrium, at will), that is, free choice is the belief of philosophical doctrines according to which people have the power to choose and make their own decisions.

It is, therefore, a requirement typical of reason, based on an objective value, but out of the most intimate and profound inner self of each person: their own reasoning. Therefore the moral obligation is autonomous and at the same time compatible with free will. It is an obligation, which cannot be legally enforced because it imposes a duty of conscience.

As for the principle of good faith (from the Latin, bona fides), it is a duty of conduct that imposes on the individual the duty to act as a good person, even regardless of the law.

Under Roman law, acting in the utmost good faith was the main duty of the pater familias, who had to act as a good father for the family. Then, it became the good businessperson under business law, and the good employee and the good employer under labor and employment law.

The use of protective elements, sanitization and disinfection kits must be coupled with a behavior aimed at protecting all around us, where the expected behavior becomes collective actions as the only effective preventive measure.

As we all know, the fight against the pandemic has just begun, and we will have to live with it until curative medicine and preventative vaccines find a cure; so complying with protocols is a moral duty based on the principle of good faith, and depends on each one of us, on the solidarity with ourselves and with our neighbors to prevent, mitigate or neutralize the risks of infection.

Por Julián A. de Diego
Por Julián A. de Diego

Fundador y Titular del estudio “de Diego & Asociados”.  Abogado, Doctor en Ciencias Jurídicas.