published on February 3, 2023
The Anti-Vaxxer as a Moral Equal
Democracy, Legitimation, and Violence
In this article, I argue that in portending potentially fatal harm to immunocompromised others, certain vaccine-hesitant views create a paradox for democratic deliberation on public health matters. In this paradox, either vaccine-hesitant views entailing potential harm to others are entertained as legitimate public health policy, or these views are disallowed, excluding discussion of competing harms from the deliberative process. In either case, the result is a deliberative process in which some group is not treated with the consideration owed to free and equal persons as required by the terms of democratic membership. I argue for capitalizing on and refining certain epistemic traits exhibited by anti-vaxxers to address vaccine-hesitant views and minimize this paradox. However, I make the case that this paradox cannot be completely resolved, so we should focus on certain demands of justice to protect the most vulnerable.