Skip to main content

[Zoom Webinar] - Vaccine Hesitancy and Coercive Vaccination in the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Preliminary Moral Evaluation by Dr. Benedict Chan

15 Nov 2021 (Mon)
Seminar and ColloquiumCentre for Applied Ethics
15 Nov 2021 (Mon)
10 – 11pm (Hong Kong time), 9 - 10am (EST time)
Dr. Benedict Chan



Vaccine hesitancy, a delay in acceptance or even refusal of vaccination, is a problem not only involved people's level of scientific understanding, but it is also caused by complex beliefs and a lack of confidence in authority. Meanwhile, advocates for coercive vaccination argue that vaccination is a comparatively safe way for a community to reach herd immunity. Weighing the benefits and costs, it is morally permissible to have coercive vaccination. Whether we should allow coercive COVID-19 vaccination, or it is reasonable to respect people who hesitate to receive the vaccine, is a moral problem we should investigate in detail.


Regarding the topic, the speaker puts forth the following arguments. Various scholars suggest a variety of arguments for coercive vaccination against measles. Meanwhile, others put forth those arguments in favor of vaccine hesitancy. These arguments - whether positive or negative - involve many values that are incommensurable but comparable and they should be ranked in different situations. The speaker argues that we should apply consequential evaluation, suggested by Amartya Sen, as the moral reasoning and foundation to evaluate those plural values. Applying consequential evaluation, we can compare the moral similarities and differences between vaccination against COVID-19 and vaccination against measles, and also develop a philosophical framework to evaluate the moral problem of coercive vaccination