Journal of Medical Ethics (48):240-243 (2022)

Proponents of vaccine mandates typically claim that everyone who can be vaccinated has a moral or ethical obligation to do so for the sake of those who cannot be vaccinated, or in the interest of public health. I evaluate several previously undertheorised premises implicit to the ‘obligation to vaccinate’ type of arguments and show that the general conclusion is false: there is neither a moral obligation to vaccinate nor a sound ethical basis to mandate vaccination under any circumstances, even for hypothetical vaccines that are medically risk-free. Agent autonomy with respect to self-constitution has absolute normative priority over reduction or elimination of the associated risks to life. In practical terms, mandatory vaccination amounts to discrimination against healthy, innate biological characteristics, which goes against the established ethical norms and is also defeasible a priori.
Keywords Vaccine ethics  Medical ethics  Immunity passports  Discrimination  Social Ontology  Agency
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2021, 2022
DOI 10.1136/medethics-2020-107026
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

 PhilArchive page | Other versions
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

A Libertarian Case for Mandatory Vaccination.Jason Brennan - 2018 - Journal of Medical Ethics 44 (1):37-43.
A libertarian case for mandatory vaccination.J. Brennan - 2017 - Journal of Medical Ethics Recent Issues 44 (1):37-43.

View all 8 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Jewish Ethics Regarding Vaccination.Tsuriel Rashi - 2020 - Public Health Ethics 13 (2):215-223.
The Ethical Case for Mandating HPV Vaccination.Michelle J. Bayefsky - 2018 - Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 46 (2):501-510.
Community, Authority, and Autonomy: Jewish Resources for the Vaccine Wars.Rebecca J. Levi - 2014 - Journal of the Society of Christian Ethics 34 (1):173-188.


Added to PP index

Total views
1,489 ( #3,448 of 2,506,429 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
175 ( #3,360 of 2,506,429 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes