Organon F

Volume 29, May 2022, Issue 2, Pages 174–199

ISSN 2585-7150 (online) ISSN 1335-0668 (print)

Research Article

Flattening the Curve of Moral Imagination

Ondřej Beran


In this paper, I discuss some moral dilemmas related to the COVID-19 crisis and their framing (mainly) in the public debate. The key assumption to engage with is this: that we need primarily to take into account the long-term economic consequences of the proposed safety measures of social distancing. I argue that the long-term economic concerns, though legitimate, cannot suspend the irreducibly moral nature of the demand placed on the decision-makers by those who are vulnerable, at risk, or in need of medical treatment. This is discussed in relation to two points: 1) The political endeavour and rhetoric of “flattening the curve” is not necessarily short-sighted but expresses the acknowledgment of a legitimate expectation placed on elected representatives. 2) Not being able to prevent harm (to those who are in real need, or otherwise vulnerable) may lead to genuine moral distress, even if it is not clear whether it was in one’s, or anybody’s, powers to prevent the situation, or even if the best possible outcome has been otherwise reached. The second point may be understood as a part of the broader context of the established criticisms of utilitarianism.


COVID-19 crisis; economic concerns; moral dilemmas; moral luck; remorse.

Author(s) and affiliation(s)


Ondřej Beran


University of Pardubic


Centre for Ethics as Study in Human Value, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Faculty of Arts and Philosophy, University of Pardubice, Stavařov 97, Pardubice 532 10, Czech Republic


About this article


14 September 2020


14 May 2020


25 December 2020

Published online

20 June 2021


Institute of Philosophy of the Slovak Academy of Sciences

Institute of Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences

Cite as


Beran, O. (2022). Flattening the Curve of Moral Imagination. Organon F29(2), 174–199.


Beran, Ondřej. 2022. "Flattening the Curve of Moral Imagination." Organon F 29 (2): 174–199.


Beran, O. (2022). Flattening the Curve of Moral Imagination. Organon F, 29(2), pp. 174–199.

Copyright information

© Ondřej Beran

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