The Ethics of Vaccine Refusal By Brian Simpson

An academic, peer-reviewed paper has been published putting the philosophical case for vaccine refusal, not just in the context of Covid-19, but for all vaccines. The core argument goes against the present medical paternalism, that technocrats know best, and that individual liberty is a value that can be balanced, and trumped by social utility. Vaccine mandates make our natural immunity problematic, and this should not be so. Apart from ethical considerations, the science is supporting this, since numerous studies have shown that natural immunity is superior by many degrees to any alleged protection provided by the vaccines.

“Ethics of vaccine refusal

  1. Kowalik
  2. Correspondence toMichael Kowalik, Independent Researcher, Melbourne, VIC 3000, Australia; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


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.


Proponents of the view that some or all people have a moral or ethical obligation to vaccinate are implicitly committed to a further moral obligation, to develop a comprehensive and consistent argument in favour of the obligation to vaccinate, grounded in objective facts or a priori reasoning. This has not been accomplished as a matter of principle (the argument from consistency). I have developed an argument to the contrary. Vaccine mandates involve a range of discriminatory measures intended to augment the natural state of our immune system in the interest of public health. This amounts to discrimination on the basis of innate biological characteristics. The strongest mandate of compulsory vaccination would essentially make our innate biological state unlawful. There are ethically analogous hypothetical situations that are intuitively repugnant, for example, mandatory physiological alteration of healthy infants in the interest of public health. This would imply that all humans are born in a defective, harmful state. If this ethically analogous situation is unethical, a premise I have defended a priori, then mandatory vaccination is also unethical. The principle holds as a matter of logical necessity, in virtue of the intrinsic value of human agency, and is therefore not defeated by circumstances such as emergencies or pandemics. Moreover, it permissively justifies vaccine refusal by healthcare workers, despite their unique professional obligations, even for hypothetical vaccines that are medically risk-free.

Nothing presented here is meant to imply that vaccination ought to be refused; I have argued only that there is neither a moral obligation to vaccinate nor a sound ethical basis to discriminate against the unvaccinated.”




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Thursday, 08 June 2023

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