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University bioethicists: Vaccine mandates ‘promote freedom’

A pair of bioethicists recently argued that requiring people to get vaccinated as a condition of participating in society ‘promote[s] freedom’

Many people associate mandates and exclusion from society as an example of violations of freedom, but a pair of university bioethicists recently argued that “actually” vaccine requirements “promote freedom.”

Kyle Ferguson, a postdoctoral fellow at New York University’s medical school, and Arthur Caplan, a bioethics professor at the same institution, said it is time to “get tough on the unvaccinated.”

But requiring people to get a vaccination in order to eat at a restaurant or fly on a plane is a way to expand liberties, the bioethicists argued.

“These strategies are commonly described as liberty restrictions. But with their power to ensure adequate vaccination rates, they actually preserve, nurture, and promote liberty,” Caplan and Ferguson wrote. “A successful COVID-19 vaccination campaign will liberate us — as individuals and as a collective — from the callous grip of a pandemic that just won’t seem to end,” the MedPage Today essay said.

The pair see a problem with our Western and Enlightment idea of freedom.

But that’s okay, because their approach “involves reimagining freedom.”

“Here, freedom is communal rather than individualistic. And rather than being unbound, individuals in the free community are bound by and to each other,” Ferguson and Caplain said. “Communal freedom achieves much more than the unbound individual ever could.”

They urge “liberty inducers” such as vaccine passports, as a way to achieve their version of freedom — freedom from death and hospitalization.

“Ethics falls on the side of creating liberty through freedom from plague,” the NYU ethicists said. “Dawdling around using failed strategies just means more misery and less freedom.”

Caplan and another professor have previously argued that unvaccinated people need to be excluded from public places. They said “the time for begging and pleading to vaccinate must come to an end.”

MORE: Med school professor calls vaxx passports a ‘bad idea’

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