What Would Kant Call Anti-Vaxxers?

The term “conscientious objector” is closely associated with war—but it originally referred to people who refused vaccines.

In 1800s England, after vaccination rules were loosened to allow for a “conscience clause” conscientious objection cases spiraled, sparking debate. Today that legal privilege manifests as “philosophical” exemptions allowed in 15 US states. But the same quandary remains: How to define and judge conscience?

Complicating the question, rampant vaccine misinformation has infected the process of self-reflection.  

Channeling Emmanuel Kant, Eula and Mavis Biss suggest conscience implies an obligation to others. If that’s the case, can endangering others by refusing vaccines be considered conscientious? Perhaps not.

The Atlantic

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