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J Med Ethics. 2018 Jan;44(1):37-43. doi: 10.1136/medethics-2016-103486. Epub 2016 Jul 11.

A libertarian case for mandatory vaccination.


This paper argues that mandatory, government-enforced vaccination can be justified even within a libertarian political framework. If so, this implies that the case for mandatory vaccination is very strong indeed as it can be justified even within a framework that, at first glance, loads the philosophical dice against that conclusion. I argue that people who refuse vaccinations violate the 'clean hands principle', a (in this case, enforceable) moral principle that prohibits people from participating in the collective imposition of unjust harm or risk of harm. In a libertarian framework, individuals may be forced to accept certain vaccines not because they have an enforceable duty to serve the common, and not because cost-benefit analysis recommends it, but because anti-vaxxers are wrongfully imposing undue harm upon others.


Political Philosophy; Public Policy; Right to Refuse Treatment; Rights

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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