Collective Responsibility for Infectious Disease

Professor Julian Savulescu in his office

The Oxford Martin Programme on Collective Responsibility for Infectious Disease: Bringing together zoology, history, philosophy, psychology and medicine, our four-year project addresses the central research question: What is the role of collective responsibility in the genesis of and appropriate response to the threat of infectious disease? Our principal aim is to generate disease-specific policy recommendations for collective action on influenza, malaria, antibiotic resistance and vaccine-preventable childhood infections.

A small selection of project outputs can be found below.  For a more comprehensive list please visit the project's webpage on the Oxford Martin School website.

Project dates: Oct 2015 - Oct 2022


UK Government portcullis icon

Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology: POSTnotes POST-PN-0581

Antimicrobial Resistance and Immunisation (19 July 2018)

Alberto Giubilini was interviewed and acted as external peer reviewer for the preparation of this briefing.

Authors: Sarah Bunn; Catherine Hall

A POSTnote (Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology) publication that describes the potential for immunisation as a strategy to tackle antimicrobial resistance, both globally and in the UK. It discusses public health priority areas, the role for existing vaccines and the development of new ones.


House of Commons Library Briefing Paper Number CBP 9076

References work by Alberto Giubilini, Julian Savulescu and colleagues from both OUC and Oxford Martin School.   (9 December 2020). UK Vaccination Policy

Authors: Cristiana Vagnoni, Elizabeth Rough and Sarah Bunn

This Commons Library briefing paper provides an overview of UK vaccination policy. It includes an introduction to the science of vaccination and covers UK vaccination programmes, as well as considering the response of the Government to the UK's loss of the World Health Organization's (WHO) measles elimination status.

Download full report PDF from the Research Briefing: UK Vaccination Policy page.

Free Publications

Journal article

Giubilini, A., Savulescu, J., Douglas, T., Birkl, P. and Maslen, H., (2017), 'Taxing Meat: Taking Responsibility for One’s Contribution to Antibiotic Resistance', Journal of Agricultural and Environmental Ethics, Vol: 30(2): 179-198 [PMC5837014]


Giubilini, A., (2019), 'Ethics of Vaccination', (Palgrave Macmillan) [Freely available open access content NBK538383].

For more papers click here.


"The ethics of vaccination: individual, collective, and institutional responsibilities" With Dr Alberto Giubilini (8 March 2019).

Vaccination raises ethical issues about the responsibilities of individuals, communities, and states in preventing serious and potentially life-threatening infectious diseases. Such responsibilities are typically taken to be about minimising risks for those who are vaccinated and for those around them. However, there are other ethical considerations that matter when defining the responsibilities of different actors with regard to vaccination. Such ethical considerations are not often given due considerations in the debate on vaccination ethics and policy.

Thus, in this talk Dr Alberto Giubilini aims at offering a defence of compulsory vaccination taking into account not only the importance of preventing the harms of infectious diseases, but also the value of fairness in the distribution of the burdens entailed by the obligation to protect people from infectious diseases. He will offer a philosophical account of the key notions involved in the ethical debate on vaccination, of the types of responsibilities involved, of the possible types of vaccination policies ranked from the least to the most restrictive, and of the reasons why compulsory vaccination is, from an ethical point of view, the best policy available, as it is the most likely to guarantee not only protection from infectious diseases, but also a fair distribution of the burdens and responsibilities involved.

For more videos and news see project webpage.