Subtitle/Alternate Title

Using Responses To COVID-19 To Determine Whether Discourse Ethics Is Applicable To Emergencies And Emergency Powers

First Advisor

Ian Zuckerman

Second Advisor

Anandita Mukherji

Thesis Committee Member(s)

Amy Schreier, Laura Narcisi


Lauren Hirshberg


Regis College

Degree Name



Department of History, Politics, and Political Economy

Department (optional)

Political Science

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Number of Pages

53 pages


Emergencies arise unexpectedly and when they occur, it is the job of our governments to respond to them. They often do so by using emergency powers, designed to return the nation back to its original state. Ensuring that our responses to emergencies are ethical is essential if we wish to return to a state of normalcy. To ensure that everyone is treated fairly, not only during the emergency, but also during the rebuilding and healing periods of the post-emergency world, we must critically analyze our emergency response. In this paper, I propose that Discourse Ethics, a normative theory suggesting that through moral discourse those affected by an action can come to an agreement as to the valid, i.e., moral, course of action, can help us determine ethical responses to emergencies. I apply Discourse Ethics to examples of emergency powers used during the COVID-19 pandemic and come to the conclusion that the best way for Discourse Ethics to be applied to emergencies is before the emergency power is implemented, in the emergency preparedness stage. This is because Discourse Ethics works best when there is time to build consensus and when power differentials are able to be set aside.

Date of Award

Spring 2022

Location (Creation)

Colorado (state); Denver (county); Denver (inhabited place)

Rights Statement

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