Is government mandated vaccination a morally acceptable practice?
Debate Rounds (5)
Accepting this practice would rescind every individual's fundamental role, as the sole owner of his/her self, to make decisions that affect their own body. This practice allows the state to subjectively determine the conditions under which an individual may retain the authority to act on their own conscience or must submit to government decree. Once this precedent is set, there is no objective way to limit the state's ability to curtail individual decision-making as the state may arbitrarily define the breadth of its authority.
My opponent will likely argue that un-vaccinated individuals present a potential threat to other members of society and that forced vaccination is merely an act of self defense. However, no evidence of actually being sick is necessary and no person need be in any real danger before the state may violate an un-vaccinated person's body. To take this position is to effectively criminalize the existence of any individual who chooses to live in a way that is contrary to that deemed acceptable by the state. Under these conditions, anyone can be deemed a threat for any reason, so long as the state declares it so, which is both immoral and tyrannical.
My first reason as to why government mandated vaccines are acceptable, is because of self ownership. While my opponent believes in self ownership, I do as well. I believe a mandate on vaccines can enhance self ownership in defining property rights to your body, because one can not assign property rights to a virus or a disease. A vaccine erects a barrier to disease, so in many ways it's like a fence. Saying its ok to not vaccinate is like saying you can unintentionally break that fence.
This does not degrade the individual at all, but sets up rules in society that respect third party costs and negative externalities on people. I wish to treat this the same as we treat pollution in society. We should respect and be responsible to our neighbors. Sometimes an indecision can cause unintended harm to people, and people should be liable for that.
There is also a free riding effect with immunization, as people who don't go out and get immunized reap the benefits from people who do. It's not morally right to free ride off of other people and not pay a share of the costs, which can be time or money.
Finally I would wish to say to the people reading this debate, that its morally acceptable to save hundreds, if not thousands of lives, with a mandate on getting immunized. I wish to protect the current levels of immunity and herd immunity for those who can't get vaccinated because of medical or religious reasons.
If you allow "valid" religious objections to preclude an individual from this mandate then who decides what "valid" actually means? Of course that definition would be handed down by the state, who would be at liberty to define it in any way that they choose. Most importantly, why should some belief in a supernatural being give me a more justifiable objection to being vaccinated than my own conscious determination that I do not want it?
Next, my opponent argues that un-vaccinated people who do end up getting sick should be held liable for damage to others and he further argues that we should "treat this the same as we treat pollution in society." Firstly, a communicable disease is not man made and so no person can be held liable for the mere presence of disease, unlike pollution, which can be attributed to individuals. Secondly, if a non-vaccinated person becomes ill, presumably the only people who might contract the illness would be other non-vaccinated individuals, since if vaccinated people can also become ill, the whole point of that vaccination is rendered void.
If only non-vaccinated people can become ill, then they would all be liable for damages to each other and to themselves. In this case, the only thing that could be different from them just taking care of their own damages, is that someone wealthy could be expected to pay for someone poor. This in itself would be immoral, since they both made the same poor decision and both suffered the same consequences.
Pollution and Vaccination are similar in their economic applications. They are third party costs and are negative externalities, which the government has an interest in managing, thus morally justifying some form of legal force. That is what I mean by we should treat it like pollution. I agree, a communicable disease is not manmade, however you can easily prevent something like the Measles or Polio by taking the vaccine. By not taking that vaccine you put people who should be under herd immunity at risk by diminishing the effectiveness of herd immunity. This includes newborn infants or people with autoimmune diseases. These individuals can not receive vaccines, because of their medical conditions which diminishes their capability to choose and depend on others to vaccinate.
I think another issue as well are children of parents who refuse to get their child vaccinated. By not vaccinating their child, they put their child at risk for contracting a disease that was easily preventable, and this happens. The child does not make decisions for themselves, rather they have guardians who do that for them. If a girl contracts polio shouldn't the parents claim some responsibility for that?
The anti-vaccine sentiment has produced more outbreaks of diseases on to people who don't have the choice to get vaccinated. I believe saving people from hospitalization and in some cases death is right, and I think negligence of this is not a fair to the people who don't have a choice. Hence liability.
My opponent then claims that diminishing the effectiveness of herd immunity is an act of aggression against those individuals who depend solely upon herd immunity to not get sick. This position implies that newborns, people with autoimmune diseases, religious objectors, etc. have a fundamental right to depend on herd immunity, whereas anyone who does not fit the appropriate state determined criteria do not. Again, this position advocates for a class system in which certain individuals with specific characteristics are given higher standing, which is morally unacceptable.
The consequences of individuals or parents of children choosing not to vaccinate can indeed be quite harmful. Indeed, it is the consequences of non-immunity that drove humans to develop vaccines in the first place and so the consequences themselves play a valuable role in society. If an individual/parent chooses not to vaccinate, for whatever reason, and someone becomes ill then two things will happen. First, if the person survives the ordeal, s/he will have proof that getting the vaccine might have been a better choice. Second, everyone around that individual will likewise be able to rationally discern that vaccination could have prevented an illness. Forcing people who don't want vaccines to take them will only entrench resentment and will spread distrust, whereas allowing people to make rational decisions based on personal experience will serve to reduce the number of individuals who irrationally refuse vaccination.
The Government has laws that do mandate vaccines for a reason, and has had them for a while. You talk consequences, so let's talk about consequences of mandated vaccines, and how many lives they save. You can not ignore the immense benefit to everyone, including the individual. Sometimes a person can not survive an ordeal, sometimes they die or are disabled for life. Parents not vaccinating their children puts them at harm, and the government has a moral obligation to protect people that are within guardianship of others. You are definitely right on both points, however we can easily prevent this from happening.
Forcing people to take vaccines has been going on forever, and resentment has never occurred until recently with the pseudo science of the anti-vaccine movement. Public Health is traditionally a government function that should be maintained as it benefits everyone. It's a very small cost, and a huge benefit.
My opponents also seems to ignore negative third party costs, and positive third party benefits. Individuals who do not vaccinate benefit off of those who do. Some decisions made by individuals affects third parties.
Let's do talk about consequences of mandated vaccinations. You mention repeatedly the people who have benefited from vaccines, and indeed there are many, but what about those people who have had extremely adverse reactions to vaccines? It is not pseudo-science to acknowledge that there are real and quantifiable dangers associated with vaccines and it is not always possible to determine if a person will suffer an adverse reaction before administering the vaccine. Under your forced vaccination system, it is entirely possible that someone will become sick or even die from taking a vaccine that they did not choose to take. A list of cases in which the government has compensated people for vaccine related injury/death can be found here: http://www.hrsa.gov....
You are in essence saying that it is morally acceptable to forcibly endanger non-exempt people, with sickness or even death, so that exempt people may benefit from herd immunity. You say that vaccine mandates "have been going on forever" and that "resentment has never occurred" until peoples' minds were corrupted by pseudo-science. So, none of the family members of the over 3,500 individuals who suffered verified injury ever resented the vaccine mandate? Right.
No one other than myself has the right to roll the dice on my well being. I am not society's lab rat.
I said the religious exemption is simply because of the constitution. The court has ruled more of a complicated standard for deciding whether a belief is sincere or not when determining religious discrimination. Like I said the expansion of personal objections caused an outbreak in California that hospitalized several children.
You can definitely roll the dice on your well being, however you can't put others in danger. You also didn't mention the positive externalities that people without valid medical reasons gain from people who also vaccinate. The issue of free riding is still something to be addressed with vaccination. I think that you shouldn't reap the benefits of those who are vaccinated and are responsible with their well being, unless you have a good reason.
You are also saying its morally acceptable, to be irresponsible and violate other people's right to a safe body. Disease spread is not a party to party issue, it's a community and third party issue, that should be dealt with. You can't ignore the third party costs, and to do so would be irresponsible for those in society.
The fact that you refuse to personally address the faulty logic of the religious exemption and merely wave your hand at the Constitution or "[t]he court" further demonstrates your blind admiration of the state. The highest of all courts ruled in favor of the Fugitive Slave Act too, and upheld the Japanese internment camps. I guess we should just accept their decrees without thinking for ourselves shouldn't we?
I "can't put others in danger"? So I can't drive on the road, or hire someone to fix my roof? Right. Danger is one thing, actual harm is another. If I crash into someone on the road then I am responsible for my actions. Willingly placing myself into a population of un-vaccinated individuals and accepting the possible outcome of that decision is not equivalent to crashing into someone. Yes, some of those people would love to take the vaccine and can't, but you cannot claim the right to sacrifice my free will and potentially my health simply because you think these people got the short end of the stick.
You say I "can't ignore the third party costs" but yet you ignore the first party costs. I do not advocate for being un-vaccinated, but simply acknowledge that people have the right to make their own decisions. It is in fact you who says it is morally acceptable to violate peoples' "right to a safe body", not me.
The economic argument is strong as well. Why should people who don't vaccinate reap the benefits of the costs that I had to incur on myself to be responsible, and why should people be allowed to commit negative externalities if they wish. There is a moral and economic argument for government to mitigate these third party costs.
My opponent would disregard a clear public safety issue for a personal objection that has been proven to put lives at risk. The government has a responsibility to ensure public health is maintained through the CDC. The CDC's research on personal objections to vaccines supports my arguments.
We also already have mandated vaccines in this country, and the benefits have been huge. We now are safer and healthier because of a simple shot available to us as children. While we are children, we are mandated to receive a flu shot when we enter school, unless we have an exemption. It is your responsibility to get vaccinated, and the government is simply blocking a third party cost on other people. To me its morally ok to keep the public safe from disease, because that's one of government roles.
The question you have to ask yourself readers is whether you want to save lives, or you wish someone to be irresponsible and harm others by not getting vaccinated. I would rather save lives.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Ameliamk1 2 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I was planning a full RFD, but the debate quickly came down to the term "morally acceptable". While I don't think government should mandate vaccination, that is a world of difference from whether it is acceptable from an ethical standpoints, for which it obviously it, and for which Con provided no evidence against. Simply put, Con condemned himself with his proposition.
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