Journal of Bioethical Inquiry

, Volume 6, Issue 2, pp 149–152 | Cite as

Infectious Disease Ethics: Limiting Liberty in Contexts of Contagion

  • Michael J. SelgelidEmail author
  • Angela R. McLean
  • Nimalan Arinaminpathy
  • Julian Savulescu

Infectious Disease History and Status Quo

Infectious diseases are among humankind’s worst enemies. They have historically caused more morbidity and mortality than any other cause, including war (Price-Smith 2001). Killing roughly 15 million people each year, they are currently the biggest killers of children and young adults worldwide.

Public health and medical progress—most notably with regard to improvements in sanitation, hygiene, and nutrition; and the development of vaccines and antibiotics—led to dramatic improvements in infectious disease control during the past two centuries, especially in developed countries. Early in the second half of the twentieth century, modern medicine’s power over infectious diseases appeared to be so great that it was commonly believed that it was “time to close the book on infectious disease” (Sassetti and Rubin 2007, 279).1

During recent decades, however, it has become clear that infectious diseases remain a major threat to humankind. Their continued...



Michael Selgelid thanks the Brocher Foundation in Hermance (Geneva), Switzerland, for hosting him as a visiting researcher in 2009 (during the period when the majority of the editorial work on this volume took place) and in 2007 (when the majority of the organisation for the relevant conference at Oxford took place).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Selgelid
    • 1
    Email author
  • Angela R. McLean
    • 2
  • Nimalan Arinaminpathy
    • 2
  • Julian Savulescu
    • 3
  1. 1.Centre for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics (CAPPE)The Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia
  2. 2.Department of ZoologyUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK
  3. 3.Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical EthicsOxfordUK

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