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My Interview in Crux on Vaccine Ethics

My Interview in Crux on Vaccine Ethics January 19, 2021

As I have been one of the most outspoken Catholic voices on the ethics of COVID vaccines, Charlie Camosy of Crux interviewed me on it. I cover multiple related topics in the interview. These include motivations, principles, applying principles to Moderna and Pfizer, other vaccines, and other cooperation in evil. Those topics make up the various questions.

In this interview, I elaborated more on the principles than I think I did elsewhere. Most of the other questions are similar to what I’ve said before. So here’s part of my response:

Lab workers in the Bandung BioFarma facility in Indonesia examine vaccine vials
Lab workers in the Bandung BioFarma facility in Indonesia examine vaccine vials (CC0 Voice of America)
[Preventative Medicine]

Immunization vaccines are considered a form of preventative medicine. We get vaccinated so our adaptive immune system recognizes a specific pathogen such that the next time it sees it, it will kill it. Preventative medicine would include things like eating right, regular exercise, etc. The Church generally sees preventative medicine as a good, but it is not usually a considered a mandatory good. […]

[Proportionality]

Second, we have the issue of proportionality. When one does something in preventive medicine where one looks at the positive and negative effects of actions. For actions which are not intrinsically evil, one must look at the proportions of good and evil consequences to judge morals. This is often prudential based on circumstances. For example, a few weeks back I had COVID and I did not get much exercise that week. In those circumstances, I judged the possible short term negative effects of making COVID worse were larger than the short-term mental health benefit and long-term overall health benefit. […]

[Remote Mediated Cooperation in Evil]

Cooperation in evil is also related to double effect like proportionality. Cooperation in evil means you in some way contributed to an immoral act by another. There are two ways this can be always immoral. If it is formal, in that you will the evil being done, it is always immoral.

If it is proximate, then it is also evil. Proximate means one is right there in the action. Examples of this would be a nurse handing abortion tools to a doctor or a getaway driver for a bank robbery.

Remote cooperation can also be very different degrees of remoteness. For example, working it a large hospital with hundreds or even thousands of employees where abortions are done in another part of the building is much more remote than being the secretary at a small clinic where one of the services is abortion. The more-proximate/less-remote one is, the higher the need to avoid the situation.

[Appropriation]

Appropriation is taking something from a morally wrong act in the past. Often it is a form of cooperation but not always. If I buy a stolen item, I encourage the thief to keep stealing more items, and cooperate in their future thefts. On the other hand, if I look at results from some highly immoral Nazi experiments, and use that information, I don’t in any way help similar experiments be done now or in the future.

Hopefully, this helps some of you. I’d encourage people to read the whole article.

Note: Interviews like this do not give me any money and I rely on donations to keep writing online and doing interviews like this. If you like this, please consider sponsoring me on Patreon.


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