Mandatory vaccination and the ‘seat belt analogy’ argument: a critical analysis in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 25 (2):219-224 (2022)

Abstract

The seat belt analogy argument is aimed at furthering the success of coercive vaccination efforts on the basis that the latter is similar to compulsory use of seat belts. However, this article demonstrated that this argument does not work so well in practice due to several reasons. The possibility of saving resources in health care does not usually apply in our societies, and the paternalist mentality that contributed to the implementation of seat belt–wearing obligation was predominant 30 years ago, but it does not apply at this moment. Furthermore, the risk/benefit analysis is totally different in both scenarios. In the case of seat belts, there is no way to discriminate between the users. In the case of vaccines, individuals present with unique circumstances that may differ substantially from those of another and might be foreseen a priori. This means that an analysis must be performed individually before vaccination is imposed. Finally, one must keep in mind that seat belts are often the only way in which we can protect third parties against a tragic hit by the occupant of another vehicle and are very efficient tools for this purpose. Vaccines, in contrast, do not always create sterilising immunity and are definitely not the only way by which we can avoid spreading a virus; immunity certificates, isolation, or even confinement may also serve as viable methods to achieve this purpose.

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References found in this work

Mandatory Vaccination: An Unqualified Defence.Roland Pierik - 2018 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 35 (2):381-398.
Legal Paternalism.Joel Feinberg - 1971 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 1 (1):105 - 124.

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