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Refusing the COVID-19 vaccine: what’s wrong with that?


Meylan, Anne; Schmidt, Sebastian (2023). Refusing the COVID-19 vaccine: what’s wrong with that? Philosophical Psychology, 36(6):1102-1124.

Abstract

COVID-19 vaccine refusal seems like a paradigm case of irrationality. Vaccines are supposed to be the best way to get us out of the COVID-19 pandemic. And yet many people believe that they should not be vaccinated even though they are dissatisfied with the current situation. In this paper, we analyze COVID-19 vaccine refusal with the tools of contemporary philosophical theories of responsibility and rationality. The main outcome of this analysis is that many vaccine-refusers are responsible for the belief that they should not be vaccinated and epistemically rational in holding it. This is an important result because it provides insights into the legitimacy of certain public health policies. In particular, this result shows that a public health policy that would abandon the project of convincing certain vaccine-refusers with reasons – e.g., by simply making vaccination compulsory – is prima facie illegitimate.

Abstract

COVID-19 vaccine refusal seems like a paradigm case of irrationality. Vaccines are supposed to be the best way to get us out of the COVID-19 pandemic. And yet many people believe that they should not be vaccinated even though they are dissatisfied with the current situation. In this paper, we analyze COVID-19 vaccine refusal with the tools of contemporary philosophical theories of responsibility and rationality. The main outcome of this analysis is that many vaccine-refusers are responsible for the belief that they should not be vaccinated and epistemically rational in holding it. This is an important result because it provides insights into the legitimacy of certain public health policies. In particular, this result shows that a public health policy that would abandon the project of convincing certain vaccine-refusers with reasons – e.g., by simply making vaccination compulsory – is prima facie illegitimate.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Philosophy
Dewey Decimal Classification:100 Philosophy
Scopus Subject Areas:Social Sciences & Humanities > Applied Psychology
Social Sciences & Humanities > Philosophy
Uncontrolled Keywords:COVID-19, Vaccine refusal, Belief, Responsibility, Rationality, Irrationality
Language:English
Date:18 August 2023
Deposited On:22 Mar 2023 17:02
Last Modified:30 Jan 2024 02:45
Publisher:Taylor & Francis
ISSN:0951-5089
OA Status:Hybrid
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1080/09515089.2023.2181151
  • Content: Published Version
  • Language: English
  • Licence: Creative Commons: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0)