The Prime Minister Boris Johnson stated that there may need to be a national conversation about making vaccines for Covid 19 mandatory, but subsequently the Government sought to play this down, see HERE.
Back in August I wrote a bullet point article about vaccine passports, see HERE. I am now writing this article about mandatory vaccinations and I am not particularly surprised to be doing so.
Indeed, I believe (but I am not able to assert this as a fact) that the Boris Johnson comment was an attempt to test the water on vaccine mandates and that articles like THESE, are attempts to move the Overton Window on this issue by stealth, as opposed to expressly advocating for vaccine mandates.
It is understandable for one to react by simply dismissing the proposal for mandates as outrageous. However, I regard this as an abdication of responsibility; whether one likes it or not, the gauntlet has been thrown down and the possibility of vaccine mandates being imposed provides sufficient justification for the debate.
Below is my contribution; I have sought to be as objective and logical as possible and most of the points do not rely on empirical arguments, as opposed to philosophical reasoning:
1.John Stuart Mill’s theory on liberty is based on the principle, that one should be allowed as much liberty as possible, up to the point where the exercise of liberty will cause harm to others. This means that it is never justified according to Mill, to restrict a person’s liberty, unless the restriction is designed to prevent harm to others. Mill does not mean that avoiding harm to others per se, justifies curtailing an individual’s liberty. For example, as part of trying to be successful in commerce, one is likely to cause harm to others, but commerce is a legitimate pursuit that should be permitted. Applying this principle to mandatory vaccinations, one could argue that living and breathing is the quintessentially legitimate pursuit that should not be interfered with, even if creates as inevitable risk of harm being caused via a virus, which is a separate organism.
2. Following on from point 1 above, compelling a person to submit to a vaccine in order to stop a virus causing harm, as opposed to say preventing them from driving while inebriated, is requiring them to carry out a positive act to prevent harm to others. A mandatory vaccination would therefore engage the following principle expounded by Mill:
“A person may cause evil to others not only by his actions but by his inaction, and in either case he justly accountable to them for the injury. The latter case, it is true, requires a much more cautions exercise of compulsion than the former. To make anyone answerable for doing evil to others is the rule; to make him answerable for not preventing evil is, comparatively speaking, the exception. Yet there are many cases clear and grave enough to justify that exception. ”
If one were to argue that the alleged pandemic is ‘grave enough’ to justify making the Covid 19 vaccines mandatory, then it should be borne in mind that there is no legal duty to call 999 for a person who is obviously in dire need of medical assistance, unless one has contributed to their condition. There is no question of a 999-call causing a person harm. By contrast, a significant number of people genuinely believe that the Covid 19 vaccines will cause them harm. Therefore, without fundamental reform of the criminal law, vaccine mandates would be an aberration.
3. Those who do not wish to submit to the Covid 19 vaccine may believe, correctly or not, that the vaccine could cause them physical or meta-physical harm. They may have profound and conscientious objections to the use of the vaccine, especially to the concept of being forced to take it. With this in mind, should there be a minimum area of personal liberty, upon which the state can never intrude, whatever the circumstances? This minimum area might be defined as:
"That which a man cannot give up without offending the essence of his human nature”.
4. Following on from the above point, Utilitarianism does not allow such a red line to be drawn, see HERE. This is partly because those with power can manipulate and/or fabricate data and thereby manipulate the application of Utilitarianism. Furthermore, Utilitarianism views humanity in purely materialistic terms and as a commodity; ‘the essence of human nature’ would be viewed in this context, which is why I described it as nihilistic. I cited CS Lewis who argued convincingly that the jurisprudence which advocates for rehabilitation being the main aim of punishment (this is Utilitarian jurisprudence), could be used to justify punishing those who have not committed a crime. By the same token, by adopting Utilitarianism, there is no a priori red line for liberty. Even with respect to changing a person’s thoughts, could one not argue that, in extreme circumstances, attempts should be made to change a person’s thoughts, so that they could act in a way that would increase the greater happiness principle and that it is not sufficient to merely confine them if they are a threat? It might for example be argued that a Nobel prize winning physicist should be forced to utilise their talents for the good of society, even if they do not wish to, as they are merely one person whereas they could improve the lives of millions. If one rejects Utilitarianism and accepts that there should be an a priori red line for liberty, then it is difficult to see how vaccine mandates would not cross such a line.
5. There is an implied consent to the risk of becoming infected with a virus, as part of participating in society. Those who are fearful of becoming infected can take whatever precautions they wish. A counter argument to this might be that the majority could withdraw such consent and request mandatory vaccines. Putting aside whether the vaccine reduces the risk of transmission (it certainly does not eliminate it) and whether those making such a request have been influenced by incorrect information and propaganda, it would be simplistic and nihilistic to argue that any law supported by a majority would be morally justified.
6. With respect to mandatory smallpox vaccines:
(a) The fact that there is a precedent for mandatory vaccinations does not per se
mean that any vaccine mandate can be morally justified.
(b) An exemption was later created for conscientious objectors, which essentially
meant any persons who had not failed to take the vaccine merely due to
(c) The vaccine mandates may not have been especially effective in eradicating
7. Those who support mandatory vaccinations are morally obliged to explain how they would work in practice. Would the penalty for refusal be a fine, with a prison sentence being imposed if the fine were not paid? If a relatively short prison sentence did not result in the person submitting the vaccine, would a longer sentence be imposed with the possibility of life sentences for the most recalcitrant? Would the state ultimately be prepared to sanction physical force to administer the vaccination in the way that a prisoner is executed by lethal injection in the United States? Given the alleged need for several doses of the vaccines for Covid 19, will the mandates require citizens to have several and who will decide the frequency? What about legal and moral responsibility for adverse reactions to vaccinations that are compulsory (see point 10(l) below)?
8. Forcing a person to have a vaccine which they believe, rightly or wrongly, may cause them serious harm which may not be apparent for years to come, arguably constitutes torture. This would apply to both the legal definition, the dictionary definition and the way the word is used in common parlance.
9. I am strongly opposed to vaccine passports for the reasons given in the above referenced article. However, it is obvious that for forced vaccinations to be justified, they would have to be shown to be the last resort available, with less extreme measures such as vaccine passports, not providing sufficient protection.
10. In this CHAPTER of his book, made freely available, Assistant Professor of Sociology Trevor Hope of the University of Albany, discusses the case of Typhoid Marry, and the history of state imposed quarantines and/or measures in relation to HIV/AIDS, TB, and the bubonic plague. It should be borne in mind that TB if untreated, had an infection fatality rate of circa 50% and the bubonic plague may have killed as many as 200 million people. Even the most alarmist proponents of Covid 19 measures, could not sensibly argue that the disease is as dangerous as the plague or TB.
The chapter shows how measures have been ineffective due to ignorance and knee jerk reactions. It also demonstrates how certain groups have been aggressively stigmatized, which has prevented them from co-operating with the authorities. Furthermore, case law in the USA has established the ‘least restrictive doctrine’; see point 9 above.
I accept that it would be bold to argue that the state should never impose highly draconian measures in a public health crisis, if one considers diseases such as the bubonic plague or TB. Nonetheless the demonstrable ill effects of human fallibility alone, would justify the imposition of a red line as per point 3 above.
In any event, whilst most of the points herein are intended to be philosophical, it is entirely reasonable to consider the real-life situation from the perspective of those who object to receiving the Covid 19 vaccines, as opposed to considering hypothetical situations. With this in mind I would make the following observations:
a. It is an inaccurate smear to describe a person as ‘an anti vaxer’ (sic), when they may
simply be unwilling to receive one particular set of vaccines. Yet this smear is applied
routinely by politicians and the mainstream media (MSM).
b. The UK Government have engaged in emotional blackmail.
c. Governments, and large social media platforms have censored opposing views as
misinformation, rather than allowing the public to make up their own minds over
d. Further to c above, it would have been entirely possible to have organised live Select
Committees debates and other forms of live debates, between eminent experts who
disagree with the Covid 19 measures and Government epidemiologists. The content
may be esoteric but, in my experience, a good expert can ensure that a lay person
has at least a basic understanding of complex concepts that are within their area of
e. Those bearing the brunt of the Covid 19 measures are predominantly the lower and
middle classes, with the plutocracy benefiting.This can be viewed as inherently
immoral but leads to understandable suspicion about the motives behind the
f. The ideal of a news media is that it would fearlessly pursue the truth and seek to hold
those in power, not just politicians but plutocrats and NGOs, to account. With some
exceptions such as Julian Assange, the modern MSM is in my opinion, the antithesis
of this ideal; in my view, they opt for censorship of opponents, activism over
objectivity, misleading and/or dishonest reporting. It is against this backdrop that
many will view the MSM reporting of Covid 19, which in any event, can reasonably be
described as alarmist.
g. ‘Anti vaxers’ (sic) do not merely have to agree with the Government line or believe that
on balance the vaccines are safe; they are expected to ignore any doubts they may
have when receiving the injections into their body.
h. The more aggressive the Government and the MSM is in its descriptions of ‘anti
vaxers’ (sic), the more reluctant they are likely to be to receive the vaccines.
i. So called fact checkers tend to refute straw man arguments and thereby contribute to
the obfuscation in the public debate.
j. In the UK and many Western Countries, there is a highly unrepresentative version of
democracy, with the citizen’s influence being limited to marking a cross on a ballet box
without necessarily holding any of the candidates in high regard. It is unrealistic for a
person of average means to have any serious political influence, outside of the tightly
controlled, established parties.
k. There is serious money to be made from the vaccines.
l. My understanding is that the vaccines have been given temporary authorisation for
emergency use only and the manufacturers will be immune from legal liability for any
It is against the above backdrop that ‘anti vaxer’s (sic) are being judged and it is contemptible in my view for the MSM and politicians to excoriate them.
11. There are a number of organisations who define themselves as supporters of human rights and civil liberty. These organisations did not seem to change their priorities after the first lockdown. This may seem surprising. However, is it possible that such organisations were trying to bring about a specific state of affairs from their activism, rather than viewing liberty as something inherently valuable? I am not asserting this to be the case, but it is a potential explanation for what would otherwise appear to be their surprising reaction to the Covid 19 restrictions. For example, there are profound social consequences for:
(a) Reducing or eliminating border controls and deportations
(b) Increasing the number of abortions
(c) Increasing the perceived importance of racism
(d) Changing social attitudes to certain sexual behaviours
12. Virtually any activity that makes life worth living involves a risk of harm. Death is inevitable and life should be worth living. These statements are extremely trite but should be remembered by policy makers and citizens alike, when in the grip of fear.
 As in the previous article, for the purposes of the present article, I will use the term ‘vaccine’ for brevity, but I offer no opinion either way on whether the purported MRNA vaccines are in fact vaccines, according to the recognised medical definition nor on the extent to which they can be regarded as unconventional or experimental.  Mill On Liberty ‘’Introduction’ – 1859 – Penguin Ed 1985 p68. As the mandatory smallpox vaccines were in place during Mill’s lifetime, I would be interested to know whether he expressed a view on them. However, one is not compelled to agree with Mill, even in the application of his own theory.  Ibid ‘Applications’ p163. This observation also shows that harm is a broad concept and if the harm exception is interpreted widely, it could be used to justify the virtual negation of liberty.  There is a debate about whether a virus is alive as they can only survive within an independent living organism, but they are in any event a separate organism from their host.  In this context, evil simply means harm  Ibid p70  Evans, R v  EWCA Crim 650 (02 April 2009) (bailii.org)  I Berlin, discussing various philosophers on the ‘negative concept of freedom’, i.e. freedom from – Two Concepts of Liberty – 1958 – OUP Compilation of Essays on Liberty – 2017 – p173  I am seeking to argue this point purely from a philosophical point of view. I would argue that even if the virus was as dangerous as the WHO, Governments and the MSM allege, the lockdowns and certainly mandatory vaccines would not be justified from an empirical and Utilitarian perspective.  The British Vaccination Act 1898  https://mises.org/wire/smallpox-historical-myths-behind-mandatory-vaccines  Torture Definition & Meaning - Merriam-Webster – see article 3 ECHR would it not be ‘degrading’ to be forced to receive a form of treatment, which one thought would result in severe harm and/or where one had a profound and conscientious objection to such treatment being administered? Would it not be ‘inhuman’ to ‘degrade’ another individual in such a way?  E.g - here  E.g. -here Google censor ‘misinformation’, which includes any content that contradicts WHO guidelines.  Whilst I do not treat what they say as the gospel truth, I have found this to apply to Sucharit Bhakti, Mike Yeadon, Peter McCullough and Gert Van Der Bossche.  HERE  See here - interesting articles by Glen Greenwald.  See Here – no serious person was suggesting that the Amish communities were not affected Covid 19 at all, the argument raised was whether their approach of continuing pretty much as normal and allowing herd immunity to develop, was overall a better approach.  HERE & HERE  As examples, see the website for Liberty – They oppose vaccine passports and mandates see HERE, but one might expect their opposition to be more prominent. The ACLU support mandates, in some circumstances, see HERE.  This point assumes that the policy makers are acting in good faith.