Mises Wire

Mandatory Vaccines vs. Logic and Kantian Ethics

The case in favor of mandatory vaccines rests upon faulty logic and violates ethical principles. A vaccinated person protects himself to the extent of the vaccine’s capability, which may be close to 100 percent, as in the case of polio and smallpox vaccines, or much less, as in the case of the covid-19 vaccines. One may take the vaccine and enjoy its full protection even if one is the only person so vaccinated. If everyone else takes the vaccine, one’s protection is NOT increased. And if everyone else refuses to take the vaccine, one’s protection is not diminished.

So, why insist that “society” must be allowed to force you to take a vaccine? If you refuse to take it, you are not a threat to anyone who does take it. And those like you who refuse to take it assume the risk.

One argument is that the more people who take the vaccine, the less chance the disease has to spread and, it is hoped, will die out before it has a chance to mutate into something else against which the current vaccine will not provide protection. This is what the epidemiologists call “herd immunity.”

Kant’s Humanity Principle

The problem with this argument is that it violates Emmanuel Kant’s “humanity principle”; i.e., that man is an end in himself and may not be used solely as a means to some other end. The advocates of mandatory vaccine want to force individuals, against their will, to take a vaccine to protect unknown and perhaps nonexistent others against something that may or may not happen. Not only is this very thin soup, smacking of totalitarianism, but is a clear violation of Kantian ethics.

So, what’s so important about Kantian ethics? Well, we see the problem all around us. It is so ubiquitous that that we take it for granted. The state has expanded from one organized for the protection of life, liberty, and property to one of coercion to attain societal engineering on both a domestic and international scale. I refer to the warfare/welfare state.

On the thinnest of pretenses man becomes cannon fodder for continuous wars, not to protect our lives, liberty, and property in the present, but to stop some supposed attack in the future. If we don’t stop those terrible “fill in the blank” over there, they will be at our doorstep as sure as night follows day, say the warmongers.

Domestically we are used to pursue a theoretical ideal called the welfare state, where our property is confiscated in ever-increasing amounts to uplift others. Most often the failure of these programs becomes prima facie reason to expand them, never to end them.

The welfare state has pushed aside voluntary private charities and benevolent associations, who must continually show their financial supporters that they are effective and efficient to retain their voluntary funding. Such organizations do not violate Kantian ethics. Not so with government welfare, where the public are used as means and not ends.

The mandatory vaccinations are both illogical and ethical failures. But they are just one manifestation of a wider problem, that being the expansion of state power at the expense of individual liberty.

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