Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 207–217 | Cite as

Your Liberty or Your Life: Reciprocity in the Use of Restrictive Measures in Contexts of Contagion

  • A. M. ViensEmail author
  • Cécile M. Bensimon
  • Ross E. G. Upshur


In this paper, we explore the role of reciprocity in the employment of restrictive measures in contexts of contagion. Reciprocity should be understood as a substantive value that governs the use, level and extent of restrictive measures. We also argue that independent of the role reciprocity plays in the legitimisation the use of restrictive measures, reciprocity can also motivate support and compliance with legitimate restrictive measures. The importance of reciprocity has implications for how restrictive measures should be undertaken when preparing and evaluating public health responses to contagion.


Reciprocity Restrictive measures Infectious disease Ethics Quarantine Isolation Liberty 



This research was supported by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Dr Upshur is supported by the Canada Research Chair in Primary Care Research.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • A. M. Viens
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Cécile M. Bensimon
    • 2
  • Ross E. G. Upshur
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.School of Law, Queen MaryUniversity of LondonLondonUK
  2. 2.Joint Centre for BioethicsUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of Family and Community MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Dalla Lana School of Public HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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