The Covid-19 pandemic raises the need for an ethical framework that addresses the unique ethical challenges and questions arising from airborne infectious diseases. For example, are we ever ethically obliged to wear a face mask? If so, why and when? The Respiratory Ethics Framework (REF) herein proposes pathways to answers grounded in ethical norms and the moral principles of non-harm, beneficence and respect for personal autonomy. REF is a personal ethics wherein your ethical duty to increase your respiratory hygiene efforts—such as by donning a mask—is proportional to your estimation of an increase in the likelihood that your respiratory effluent poses a risk of harmful infection to others. REF includes illustrated decision models that instantiate a framework of proportionality between levels of risk, ethical duty and mitigation that shapes risk mitigation across domains.



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