The Weekly Dilemma: Mandated Vaccines
The Biden Administration has been running into roadblocks from federal judges and state governors who reject his sweeping program of compulsory vaccination. Is there a case that can be made for requiring federal government employees to be vaccinated?
Let's be clear about some issues that are irrelevant: First and foremost, the pros and cons of the vaccines themselves. Unless there is an immunologist who wants to weigh in, that argument is off the table. Other irrelevant lines of discussion are the rottenness of the Biden administration, conspiracy theories about the "real purpose" of the COVID panic, the immoral business practices of Big Pharma. I am not much interested here in the legal or constitutional aspects of the case, since the US Constitution has long been a dead letter, and for the most part we no longer live in a country where the Anglo-American understanding of the rule of law is maintained, Again, the question is whether or not a government is justified in requiring its agents to be vaccinated,
I posted the following paragraphs in italics as conclusion to last week's stimulating discussion. Most readers have probably not seen it, so I am putting it here as a suggested set of guidelines. There are hazards. The last time I engaged in this sort of discussion, an old friend cursed me to die alone
Thanks for all the comments. I have closed off comments because the discussion seems to have run it course. I used to have a Greek friend, a business professor from Alexandria, and he once remarked that there was no point in debating a communist, because you would go from A to Z, disproving his every point, and just when you thought the debate was over, after settling point Z, he'd pop up and say, "Yes, but what about A." As the years have gone by, I have realized that this approach to rational discussion is not limited to communists but is found in every ideology: feminists, libertarians, religious fanatics of every tribe and sect. And, when the ideologue returns to his unbudgeable position, he is a small step away from personal insult.
When I was teaching students how to organize their ideas and to write a coherent essay on a thesis, I gave them a rule--albeit a rule made to be broken by good writers, but, a good guideline nonetheless. Here it is: Never offer a fact or instance, except to illustrate a general principle, and never declare a general principle that is not backed up by instances. Now, a truly Socratic teacher would add that the first phase of a logical argument about some human dilemma is to reach the point where the participants are clear about their basic principles, I have jokingly called this, in a piece of fiction, paramoral inquiry.
The next phase is to discover whether the participant's set of principles are congruent with each other. In this regard, it is sometimes helpful (though not necessary) for a participant to state the context of authority in which he is speaking, e.g., as a Catholic, a Classical Liberal, a Kantian, a Rothbardian, an "American Conservative," a Marxist, etc.
This probably sounds too elementary to need stating, but just this once, perhaps, it is not a waste of time. This has been quite a good discussion, and I look forward to the next episode. Please feel free to suggest questions, because I do not always (ever?) know what topic might interest our friends and readers.