Top News, Articles, and Interviews in Philosophy

Measles & the Ethics of Belief

Philosophy News image
Before the development of the vaccine, measles infections resulted in thousands of hospitalizations and hundreds of deaths in the United States each year. After the vaccine became available, the number of cases dropped dramatically. While the number of infections remains low, measles has recently gotten into the news due to an outbreak in Washington (the state). As of this writing, the number of people infected is low—but measles is exceptionally contagious.  While those who have been vaccinated have an excellent defense against the disease, the unvaccinated are quite vulnerable. These people include those too young to get the vaccine and those who have medical reasons for not getting it. It also includes people who have elected to not have themselves or their children vaccinated. Washington allows citizens to opt out of vaccination, which is the reason that the population did not reach the percentage of people needed to provide herd immunity (that is, so many people are vaccinated, even the unvaccinated are protected because the disease will be limited in its ability to spread). Image Credit While medical reasons are clearly legitimate reasons to not get vaccinated, some states allow people to refuse vaccination based on their religious beliefs. Some states also allow an exception for “philosophical beliefs” about vaccines. While the legality is a matter for the lawmakers, this is clearly also an ethical matter. Proponents of vaccine choice might argue that vaccines are harmful and hence it is the right choice to opt out, regardless of whether one is motivated by religion or philosophy. However, the measles vaccine (like almost all vaccines) is very safe. This is not to say that vaccination is without risk—they can have serious side effects. However, the risk of the harms prevented by vaccines greatly outweighs the risk of the vaccines. Also, most worries about vaccines are based on utterly debunked claims. To use an analogy, the argument. . .

Continue reading . . .

News source: A Philosopher's Blog

blog comments powered by Disqus