In defence of fear: COVID-19, crises and democracy

Degerman, Dan, Flinders, Matthew and Johnson, Matthew (2020) In defence of fear: COVID-19, crises and democracy. Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy. ISSN 1369-8230 (In Press)

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The COVID-19 crisis has served, not just to instill fear in the populace, but to highlight the importance of fear as a motivating dynamic in politics. The gradual emergence of political philosophical approaches calling for concern for ‘positive’ emotions may have made sense under non-pandemic conditions. Now, however, describing fear in the face of a deadly pandemic as ‘irrational’ or born of ‘ignorance’ seems ‘irrational’ and ‘ignorant’. In this article, we draw upon the work of John Gray and behavioural science to present a defence of fear. We show how the pandemic has highlighted deficits in the work of four thinkers highly critical of fear: Martha Nussbaum, Zygmunt Bauman, Hannah Arendt and Sarah Ahmed. We argue that, if such approaches are to be of value in anything other than optimal conditions, then they have to acknowledge the fundamental role of fear in helping human beings to pursue fundamental interests.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding information: Dan Degerman’s work on this was supported by the Leverhulme Trust [grant reference: ECF-2020-583].
Uncontrolled Keywords: Fear, emotions, irrationality, politics, public health
Subjects: L200 Politics
L400 Social Policy
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Social Sciences
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2022 13:56
Last Modified: 29 Jul 2022 16:30

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