Vulnerability and Resilience in a Crisis – Ethical Criteria for Decision-Making in a Pandemic

Published: 4 April 2022

The German Ethics Council reflects on the experience gathered in the struggle against the COVID-19 pandemic and draws conclusions for future ways to deal with a pandemic. The Council develops important ethical criteria for complex decisions and presents recommendations for weighing goods in the context of pandemics. In addition to the balancing of individual freedom with public health requirements they also concern ways to deal with uncertainty and a lack of knowledge. These two factors made political decision-making difficult during the pandemic, especially in the beginning. Other recommendations call for improved communication and information strategies, and for including people with limited opportunity for participation in the decisions which affect them. From a perspective of democratic theory, the German Ethics Council advocates the promotion of personal responsibility, solidarity and social cohesion.