, Volume 26, Issue 1, pp 43-57
Date: 16 Oct 2013

Disagreement Over Vaccination Programmes: Deep Or Merely Complex and Why Does It Matter?

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Abstract

This paper argues that significant aspects of the vaccination debate are ‘deep’ in a sense described by Robert Fogelin and others. Some commentators have suggested that such disagreements warrant rather threatening responses. I argue that appreciating that a disagreement is deep might have positive implications, changing our moral assessment of individuals and their decisions, shedding light on the limits of the obligation to give and respond to arguments in cases of moral disagreement, and providing an incentive to seek alternative ways of going on in the face of intractable moral disagreement. Non-coercive, non-reasoned strategies have been used or recommended to increase vaccination rates. Such strategies look problematic when judged by the standards of ideal moral and rational argumentation, but more acceptable if seen as responses to deep disagreements.