“Is It Ethically Okay to Get Food Delivered Right Now?”

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“Is It Ethically Okay to Get Food Delivered Right Now?”

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With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic, people began to grapple with moral dilemmas about the new, deadly situation that they found themselves in. These ethical dilemmas, which are the focus of a brief Atlantic Monthly article by Joe Pinsker, concerned the basic, but important issue of procuring food and drinks, which now ran the risk of infecting and possibly killing innocent essential workers and delivery drivers. To help soothe the troubled consciences of the general public, Pinsker consulted a variety of medical professionals, food scientists, ethicists, and moral philosophers to come up with answers to the ethical questions raised by these new circumstances.
These questions included, but were not limited to: “How often should I go to the grocery store?”; “Is it ethical to get delivery?”; “How hard is it to figure out which businesses take good care of their workers?”; and “Is there anything I can do to help the people working at grocery stores, restaurants, and delivery companies?”
In his answers to these questions, Pinsker implored readers to listen to the sound medical advice given by local health officials to reduce the risk of transmission and death, as this would protect both service workers and the readers. He also informed readers that it was better to reduce shopping trips to a once a week affair, as the more shopping trips one takes increases the risk of infection and transmission to innocent people. Furthermore, Pinsker advised those concerned about a restaurant or corporation’s treatment of their workers to research online if they provide workers with paid sick leave, and to tip workers a significant amount of money if they do not. Finally, Pinsker told readers that ordering delivery was not inherently unethical, as the money spent on delivery was money that would go into the pockets of workers, who especially need any help they can get during the current pandemic-induced economic recession.
In brief, the questions presented and Pinsker’s responses provide an illuminating snapshot of how people grappled with the new moral dilemmas created by the COVID-19 pandemic. They display considerable consideration for the vulnerability of service workers, who are more exposed to COVID-19 than those working from their homes.

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This item was submitted on November 4, 2020 by Carlos Castro using the form “Share Your Story” on the site “A Journal of the Plague Year”:

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