Against mumps, Meursault, Mcdonald’s and Marlboro

Inez de Beaufort

in From reason to practice in bioethics

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print April 2015 | ISBN: 9780719096235
Published online January 2016 | e-ISBN: 9781781708392 | DOI:

Series: Bioethics and the Humanities MUP

Against mumps, Meursault, Mcdonald’s and Marlboro

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Suppose a state proposes a vaccination against Smoking, Alcohol and Drugs, the SAD programme. Children could be vaccinated not only against mumps and measles but also against enjoying dangerous substances such as nicotine and alcohol. Some might argue that such a vaccination is ethically justified , indeed a wonderful solution to individual and social problems related to addiction; others might consider this to be unacceptable. The following arguments are discussed: - the future autonomy - would it be different if one could ‘undo’ the vaccination; - the moral importance of the liberty to decide about (trivial) lifestyle choices; - the idea that some unhealthy habits are part of one’s personality and identity; - ‘healthism’: sometimes people, e.g. mountaineers, take risks with their health because life is not only about health and longevity. Some slippery sloping is done to imagine vaccination against gambling, gluttony and obesity. A danger is that in the name of health a particular moral view is imposed on persons, e.g. a teetotaller’s view on alcohol. Immunisation may seem ideal from a public health perspective but there are serious ethical problems to be considered.

Keywords: Risky lifestyles; Unhealthy habits; Vaccination against nicotine; Healthism

Chapter.  4007 words. 

Subjects: Ethical Issues and Debates

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