Resisting Moral Permissiveness about Vaccine Refusal

Public Affairs Quarterly 27 (1):69-85 (2013)
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Abstract

I argue that a parental prerogative to sometimes prioritize the interests of one’s children over the interests of others is insufficient to make the parental refusal of routine childhood vaccines morally permissible. This is because the moral permissibility of vaccine refusal follows from such a parental prerogative only if the only (weighty) moral reason in favor of vaccination is that vaccination is a means for promoting the interests of others. However, there are two additional weighty moral reasons in favor of routine vaccination: fairness and concern for the vulnerable. These moral reasons in favor of vaccination are not defeated by a parental prerogative to prioritize the interests of one’s children over the interests of others.

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Mark Christopher Navin
Oakland University

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