I argue that there are significant moral reasons in addition to harm prevention for making vaccination against certain common infectious diseases compulsory. My argument is based on an analogy between vaccine refusal and tax evasion. First, I discuss some of the arguments for compulsory vaccination that are based on considerations of the risk of harm that the non-vaccinated would pose on others; I will suggest that the strength of such arguments is contingent upon circumstances, and that in order to provide the strongest defense possible of compulsory vaccination such arguments need to be supplemented by additional arguments. I will then offer my additional argument for compulsory vaccination: I will argue that in both cases of vaccine refusal and of tax evasion individuals fail to make their fair contribution to important social and public goods, regardless of whether each individual contribution “makes a difference”. While fairness considerations have sometimes been used to support a moral duty to vaccinate, they have not been appealed to to argue for a legal duty to vaccinate. I will suggest that this is due to a misapplication of the principle of the least restrictive alternative in public health. Finally, but most importantly, I will address eight possible objections to my argument.
Internal only - booking not required.
Venue: Oxford Martin School, Seminar Room 2