Trust and vulnerability in the post covid-19 era

After the lockdown, as measures start to be eased up around the world, who will we trust to see without a mask? Who will we trust with a kiss and hug? Who will we trust to have intimate relationships with?

In this piece (1,650 words) published for Institute of Art and Ideas online magazine as a follow-up on my AEON essay, I discuss trust and vulnerability and the human condition in the post covid-19 era.

Trust and vulnerability will become two key players in the post covid-world, as we emerge from lockdown and questions about who, and how, we shall trust dominate the discussion of the reshaping of the social fabric.

Trust is often quantified and societies are portrayed as ‘low’ trust (e.g. Italy, Spain) and ‘high’ trust (UK, Scandinavian countries). However binary conceptualisations of trust have been challenged by research which shows that more complex notions are necessary to explain people’s compliance with public health measures.

The portrayal of societies as ‘low’ and ‘high’ trust reinforces the very same national stereotyped behaviours that the public health measures were put in place to counteract. I argue that shifting the burden of the post covid-19 discussion from ‘trusting’ others to ‘allowing oneself to be vulnerable’, allows us to think in a different way about the future, and to act differently in the present to make that future possible. I also argue for the need to carry out research to discover the ways in which vulnerable people want to be protected (or not), including, the older people, and those at risk of experiencing severe covid-19 due to pre-existing conditions.

The article can be accessed here:

“Non doveva per forza andare cosi’ ” per Micromega Online

Le mie riflessioni sull’etica della pandemia ora anche in italiano per Micromega Online:

Per il testo in italiano si ringrazia Alessio Mattana per la traduzione e l’assistenza editoriale, e Giulia Cavaliere, filosofa morale all’University of Lancaster, per la lettura e i commenti.

A first-person perspective on the covid-19 outbreak in Italy – for AEON

I wrote a first-person perspective on the covid-19 outbreak in Italy for the online magazine AEON. In the essay (3,900 words, published on April 27th, 2020) I talk about allocation of scarce resources, intergenerational ethics, and tensions in public health ethics between the public good and individual freedoms. I also share some details of my personal life and how it was impacted by the covid-19 outbreak in Emilia-Romagna.

It was a real pleasure to work with AEON Senior Editor Sally Davies for this essay.


Forli’ in the time of covid-19 with benches cordoned off- March 2020 (photo by the author)