Restrictions on Privacy, Autonomy and Liberty: Lessons from Infectious Disease Control

Wednesday, April 9, 2003 - 11:30am to 1:00pm

Mondale Hall, Room 25, University of Minnesota Law School

Infectious disease may pose grave threats to the community, requiring public health interventions that impose some limits on basic rights. Just how severe and certain the threat must be before limits may be imposed has been the source of controversy for more than 100 years. These conflicts have been shaped by changing conceptions of the appropriate relationship between the individual and the state. In the 1980s there emerged a dictum, spawned by the encounter with AIDS, that there was no tension between public health and civil liberties, that abrogations of civil liberties inevitably hindered the protection of public health. In 2003, this looks more like a vain hope than a careful observation.


Harry Hull, MD
State Epidemiologist & Division Director Minnesota Department of Health, Division of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Prevention & Control

Prof. Steven Miles, MD
Center for Bioethics and Medical School, University of Minnesota


Ronald Bayer, PhD, has been involved in the study of the ethics of public health, exploring the issues surrounding the HIV epidemic for almost two decades, tuberculosis policy, and tobacco. He is Professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health. He received his PhD in political science at the University of Chicago.

April 9, 2003