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  • Writer's picturejdaneway

Philosophies of Favor

I write in plain language. So, I'm going to make some generalizations here. After WWII and the atrocities of human experimentation, the world got together and created a moral code, a pact of sorts to prevent abuses in research on humans. The code/pact is nuanced and requires one to look at the intent and the history behind its creation, in order to apply and understand it.

That being said, one of the nuanced tenets of this code/pact is that when conducting experimental research on people, that is not the same as medical treatment, that we consider the rights of each subject involved in the research. Each individual subject has a choice to participate in research, and they must be fully informed to make that choice. This pact/code was influenced by the creator of medical ethics, Immanuel Kant, who basically said that the ends do not justify the means when evaluating the risk/benefit ratio to society versus the risk/benefit ratio to individual participants in research. We applied Kant's theories to medical research specifically because the Nazis argued that torturing the Jews for research was warranted because the research benefited more people than it harmed - they argued the ends justify the means. This type of ideology is called Utilitarianism, and the Nazi example is one example of how this ideology can be abused or go wrong.

So, back to Kant - we call Kant's philosophy Deontological. Kant basically says, it's only right to do something if you'd do the same to everyone. It's kind of like: Do unto others, as you would have done unto you. Also, not lying at all (not white lies or half-truths either) is a part of Kant's philosophy. Nuances. I'm in Kant's world view.

So, without highlighting the Nazi example, if you were to ask many physicians and vaccine researchers which world view they partake in, they would probably come out on the Utilitarian side. Let's not roast them alive yet. Their oaths put them in that camp. The Hippocratic oath makes them promise to do the greatest good for the greatest many.

So, what is my point here. My point is, no one is promoting or protecting the rights of those who subscribe to the Deontological/Kantian world view when it comes to medicine and most notably recently, vaccines. Researchers and pharmaceutical companies believe there are acceptable casualties in this war against the virus. If a vaccine can be created that helps most, but some are harmed, then under their philosophy the harmed are regrettable but acceptable casualties. They are weighing the harmed against the risk of the virus itself. This is one way to look at things, and I'm not going to call it wrong. I'm just saying it's not for everyone, and I refuse to be forced into being subjected to this philosophy.

In my world view, the captain goes down with the ship. If one person is harmed and that harm was forced upon them so that others could thrive and prosper, in my opinion that's just wrong. Likewise, I do not believe in hiding details (like risks) to influence an outcome for someone else's definition of the greater good. I believe in fully informed consent.

Just as some people are pacifists and others fighters, some will choose to be vaccinated and others will not.

I am still waiting to establish as a new patient with a physician before I get my vaccine. I'm not particularly pleased with the limited safety data available. But based upon what I know, I have weighed the risks of the virus against the vaccine and am willing to get the vaccine once I can be assured access to care if something goes wrong. I accept that this is the choice I am making for myself, and I do not expect or pressure others to come to the same conclusion.

If you would like to read further on these topics, I found this other article that explains these issues a little more elegantly: Or, you could read the various works by Immanuel Kant.

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