On February 1st a national vaccine mandate took effect in Austria. Those over the age of 18 who haven’t been vaccinated could face fines of over €3,000. Several other countries have introduced similar mandates for the elderly, medical staff and care home workers. Those resisting vaccination say it should be their choice whether to get the jab, not the state’s. Others argue that in liberal societies, it’s the state’s a right to limit the freedom of individuals when their behaviour harms others.
So are those resisting vaccination right in saying it’s a matter of their personal freedom? Or does the harm they might be causing others justify state intervention? Would mandating vaccines an act of paternalism by the state? And could ending the pandemic be a good enough reason for overriding other ethical concerns?
Stephen John is the Hatton Trust lecturer in philosophy of public health at the University of Cambridge, and works on the intersection of philosophy of science, applied ethics, and political philosophy. He is author of the book Objectivity in Science, and is a regular contributor to publications like The Conversation, and the online magazine of The Institute of Art and Ideas. Our conversation is based on an article Stephen wrote for the latter, asking “Are mandatory vaccines justified?”.
Pease leave us a review on Apple Podcasts.
This podcast is created in partnership with The Philosopher, the UK’s longest running public philosophy journal. Check out the spring issue of the philosopher, and order a copy: https://www.thephilosopher1923.org
Artwork by Nick Halliday
Music by Rowan Mcilvride