The adaptive moral challenge of COVID-19

Mind and Society 20 (2):215-219 (2021)
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Abstract

This author offers of narrative of hope in response to the coronavirus pandemic by viewing it as a wake-up call to lean into the adaptive moral challenge of stewardship for the future of humanity and the planet. Acknowledging the many material and social benefits of a global regime of free market urbanism built on advances in science and technology, this is a point in geohistory, the Anthropocene, when the impact of human activities on the Earth has begun to outcompete natural processes. The coronavirus has illuminated systemic moral failures and new moral challenges of the Anthropocene that call for adaptive response if we are to build a hopeful future for humanity and the planet. Pointing to millennia of human adaptive response to threats and disasters, the author asserts an evolutionary hardiness attributable as much to moral capacities as rational intelligence as a singularly defining trait fueling millennia of human adaptive learning and thrival. The current pandemic is the latest point in humanity’s moral evolution of adaptive response to moments of urgent threat that have tested, expanded, and defined our character and moral capacities as a species. Rather than falter under the moral burden of the coronavirus threat and its consequences, the author views this pivotal point as an opportunity to stretch human moral horizons by taking responsibility for the urgent moral challenges we have created and inventing new ethical frameworks and tools that will lead us to new moral understandings and solutions to the moral challenges we face.

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