“Values, Ventilators, and Vaccines: Lessons from the Pandemic”
with Professor Julian Savulescu
October 28, 2021
“We are just following the science” has been a frequent justification for policy by politicians in the pandemic. There has been a steadfast refusal to explicitly address the ethical values relevant to policy making, with the veneer that these are objective and scientific. Science has been vital to the pandemic, but so have ethical values: the value of life and balance of freedom/liberty and health/wellbeing. In the allocation of limited resources, such as ventilators and vaccines, all lives have been valued equally. However, ethical theory and public sentiment can place weight on age, length of survival, quality of life, responsibility, dependents, desert and other factors. I will review how these values can be encorporated into decision making and summarise research we have conducted into public opinion. I will also outline how values of liberty and health can be weighed using ethical theory and public opinion in relation to mandatory vaccination, incentives, and vaccine passports.
Professor Julian Savulescu is an award-winning ethicist and moral philosopher, recognised internationally for his world-leading research into the ethics of future technologies. Trained in neuroscience, medicine, and philosophy, he has held the Uehiro Chair in Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford since 2002.