Events | Weighing Moral Goods in Corona Politics – Simone Chambers, Christoph Möllers & Julian Nida-Rümelin in Conversation

Online | May 22, 2021 | 11:00 AM (PDT)

Policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic require the balancing of moral and legal goods. Protection against infection and care for vulnerable groups must be weighed against other goods such as freedom of assembly, the right to education and the right to freedom of religion. Making appropriate trade-offs is part of political negotiation processes. Within federal democracies, but also at the international level, very different results are achieved. For example, different regulations apply in Berlin than in Los Angeles. And while personal freedom of action and individual responsibility are emphasized in Sweden and in individual U.S. states, many other countries prioritize the protection of the weakest and rely on mandatory collective measures.

Constitutional law scholar and Thomas Mann Fellow Christoph Möllers (Humboldt University of Berlin) will be in conversation with philosopher Julian Nida-Rümelin (Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich) and political scientist Simone Chambers (University of California Irvine). What ethical and legal conflicts are significant for corona policies in Germany and the United States? And what can be learned from these conflicts for a democratic renewal? The conversation will be moderated by Georg Diez. Diez is a writer and long-time journalist working for Süddeutsche Zeitung, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung, Die Zeit and as a political columnist for Spiegel Online He is the editor-in-chief of The New Institute.


Simone Chambers is a Professor of Political Science at the University of California at Irvine.  She has written and published on such topics as deliberative democracy, public reason, the public sphere, secularism, rhetoric, civility and the work of Jürgen Habermas and John Rawls.  She recently published an edited volume with Peter Nosco on navigating pluralism: Dissent on Core Beliefs: Religious and Secular Perspectives (Cambridge University Press, 2015). She works with the group Participedia gathering data on deliberative and participatory initiatives around the world.

Christoph Möllers is a Professor of Public Law and Jurisprudence, Faculty of Law, Humboldt-University Berlin and a Permanent Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study Berlin. His main research interests include German, European and comparative constitutional law, regulated industries, democratic theory in public law and the theory of normativity. He is a member of the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and was a judge at the Superior Administrative Court in Berlin. In 2016 he was awarded the Gottfried-Wilhelm-Leibniz-Prize. Möllers is a 2021 Thomas Mann Fellow.

Julian Nida-Rümelin studied philosophy, physics, mathematics and political science in Munich and Tübingen. He has taught philosophy and political theory at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich since 2004. His research areas are the theory of rationality, ethics and political philosophy. Nida-Rümelin served as Minister of State for Culture in Gerhard Schröder's first cabinet. Nida-Rümelin is Vice-Chair of the German Ethics Council. He and Natalie Weidenfeld recently published the book Die Realität des Risikos with Piper Verlag.

Livestream on May 22, 2021 at 11:00 a.m. (PST).

Watch here.

Free admission.


The event is a collaboration of the Thomas Mann House and The New Institute.

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