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The Ethics of Social Distance and Proximity in the City

The Ethics of Social Distance and Proximity in the City

Tea Lobo, “The Ethics of Social Distance and Proximity in the City,” Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia 77, no. 2–3 (2021): 995–1004,

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  • The Ethics of Social Distance and Proximity in the City

    Type Journal Article
    Author Tea Lobo
    Rights © 2021 by Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia
    Volume 77
    Issue 2-3
    Pages 995-1004
    Publication Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia
    ISSN 0870-5283
    Date 2021
    DOI 10.17990/RPF/2021_77_2_0995
    Language English
    Abstract The genealogy of ethics starts in the polis. Plato and Aristotle had an optimistic view of polis life, even though Plato was born shortly after the plague of Athens, an experience that left a deep imprint in his society, and interestingly not a very good opinion of democracy. The idea of the polis as the ideal locus for human flourishing can be contested because we do not share the same face-to-face form of life with the ancient polis-dwellers. Contemporary megacities do not harbor an agora in which citizens debate current affairs. Such debates have shifted to social media. It is worth investigating the value of face-to-face interaction even today. Despite the risk of spreading airborne lung diseases like the Corona virus, the possibility of face-to-face interactions allows the cultivation of attention necessary for ethics. Knowing your neighbor by acquaintance, seeing her face every day can make pedestrians better attuned to the need to protect her in times of the pandemic, by maintaining distance and wearing a mask. If this is indeed the case, then it has implications for urban design: urban density can be designed in a way that affords functional proximity (the likelihood of encounters) and more humane neighborhoods.
    Date Added 9/10/2021, 5:12:34 PM
    Modified 9/10/2021, 6:37:09 PM


    • attention, density, ethics, infection, polis, proximity, space syntax.


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