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The ethics of disease eradication

Wilson, JGS; (2014) The ethics of disease eradication. Vaccine , 32 (52) pp. 7179-7183. 10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.10.009. Green open access

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Abstract

This paper provides an examination of the ethics of disease eradication policies. It examines three arguments that have been advanced for thinking that eradication is in some way ethically exceptional as a policy goal. These are (1) global eradication has symbolic importance, (2) disease eradication is a global public good and (3) disease eradication is a form of rescue. It argues that none of these provides a good reason to think that individuals have special duties to facilitate eradication campaigns, or that public health authorities have special permissions to pursue them. But the fact that these arguments fail does not entail that global disease eradication is ethically problematic, or that it should not be undertaken. Global eradication of a disease, if successful, is a way of providing an enormous health benefit that stretches far into the future. There is no need to reach for the idea that there is a special duty to eradicate disease; the same considerations that are in play in ordinary public health policy – of reducing the burden of disease equitably and efficiently – suffice to make global disease eradication a compelling goal where doing so is feasible.

Type: Article
Title: The ethics of disease eradication
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.10.009
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.vaccine.2014.10.009
Language: English
Additional information: © 2014 The Author. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/).
Keywords: eradication, vaccination ethics, time discounting, global public goods, symbolic value, ethics
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1455636
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