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Vaccines and the State

Here’s a report from Australia:

“The Australian government has decided to deprive parents of their tax benefits if they do not immunise their children against diseases.

Some families could lose over $2,000 per a child. And while the benefits of vaccination, for individual children, and for the population, far outweigh any risks, some parents question the policy, and do not like money coming into the equation.”

I think it’s trivial to say that this is a case of a government interfering in the choices of a family. Whether this interference is warranted, however… Does the government of a country have the right to financially penalise a family for making choices that don’t directly affect anyone else?

Well, that’s not a small question, so we need to drill down into the details a little. For the purpose of this essay, I’m going to restrict the question to people who are legally in the country and their children (biological or otherwise).

I am also not going to differentiate between ‘a fine’ and ‘withholding tax benefits such that the people have to pay higher taxes’. I don’t see a significant difference here, and while some folk may want to split hairs over this, I’m not going to argue about this short of someone providing a well-thought-out argument detailing the difference.

 

Obligations

So what is the relationship between the State, and these people? What rights do they have, and what obligations? To whom is the State beholden?

It would seem to me that the State has a wide variety of obligations, which can be generally summed up simply as ‘providing the framework for people to live their lives as they see fit, insofar as their choices do not endanger that framework, or other people’. Of course, the State has to allow for that framework to be altered over time, so there must be legitimate ways to do so (i.e. engaging in the democratic process), and the State cannot be partial with regards to non-harmful belief systems: all religions (and such) must be weighed as equal (which, in effect, means ignoring the supernatural component and special pleading of all religions).

This summation is really doing the bulk of the work in my argument, so if you disagree with the conclusions, the odds are that you disagree with my assessment of the State.

 

Vaccines

The purposes of vaccines that I’m going to focus on are the reduction of the incidence and transmission of diseases. Those people who are vaccinated are less likely to become infected by a disease, and should they become infected, they will likely cope with the illness better than if they were not vaccinated. Consider the vaccine analogous to your immune system being trained to fight an illness: sure, it can fight without training, but it’s a lot more effective with training.

Furthermore, there are people present in the State who cannot be vaccinated for a variety of medical reasons (allergies, compromised immune systems, etc). The people who are vaccinated, however, are less like to transmit the disease, thus form a sort of social buffer around the people who cannot be vaccinated: as fewer people in a vaccinated population will become infected, we therefore reduce the pathways that the illness can take to reach the unvaccinated people.

Is there a risk to being vaccinated? Absolutely. But that risk is several orders of magnitude lower than the risk undertaken by choosing not to be vaccinated. As it is prudent and rational to choose the lower risk over the higher risk, it is prudent and rational to choose to be vaccinated over being not-vaccinated.

Some people want to argue, however, that they wish to accept the odds (for whatever reasons); that to vaccinate should be their choice, and their choice alone. Isn’t it their life, and for them to decide what is to be done with it?

 

Actually… No, it isn’t. Because we are not talking about rational Agents making decisions about themselves: we are talking about people making decisions about people-who-are-not-agents, and that those decisions will have a knock-on effect on other people within the State. Basically, it’s fair game for me to sit at home, drink copious amounts of alcohol, and then drive at high-speed around my private race-track: I’m a danger only to myself. The moment I want to take my car out onto the highway, however, the State has an obligation to check my behaviour.

Similarly, if I have a child, I don’t have a right to harm that child (or put that child at risk) on a whim. While the child is neither an agent nor a citizen, the State has an obligation to ensure that no children are harmed (or put at risk), without a reason that is justifiable to the state. Driving a car with a child while under the effect of alcohol is unjustifiable, unless (for example) the child is suffering a medical emergency and there is no other way to get that child the medical attention that they need. Here the risk of impaired driving must be balanced against the risk of leaving the child untreated: even if I have miscalculated the relative risks, my choice to drive is justifiable.

So if you wish to not-vaccinate your child, you need to justify that decision: you are choosing to expose your child to a higher risk than if you vaccinated (the relative costs of which are virtually zero, depending on the State in question). The argument of “well, vaccination is risky” is irrelevant: it’s a simple fact that not-vaccinating is more risky. The argument of “vaccinations are more risky than illnesses” is simply wrong. The argument of “my religion prohibits it” is irrelevant: the State is not concerned about your religion. You may have a made a choice about a religion, but your choice is now affecting your child: your choice has a realistic possibility of precluding their future choices.

Of course, these examples just look a the child in question and we can see that the anti-vaccination crowd doesn’t have a leg to stand on. To drive the nails further into the coffin: the choice not to vaccinate your child endangers all the children that that child goes to school with. Vaccination (as outlined at the start of this article) is not full immunisation: if a vaccinated child comes into frequent contact with infected children, their odds of contracting the illness increase with each contact even though they are vaccinated. And while it’s true that they will probably experience the illness with a lower severity than if they were not vaccinated, this doesn’t rule out their risk of death, or brain damage, or whatever else the disease may cause.

Regardless of the kinds of ‘rights’ people assume they have that allow them to risk their own related children, these supposed ‘rights’ do not extend to putting other, unrelated children at risk.

 

Furthermore, even if there were no increase in deaths amongst these children, and there was no long-term health effects from exposure to illness, the increased usage of medical facilities by the families in a State-subsidized health system warrants some kind of disincentive. Taking up a doctor’s time merely because you have refused to accept that vaccines present a lower health risk to your child than measles is a choice that takes a doctor away from other patients. The financial penalty may also go some way towards recouping/offsetting the cost of the frivolously used medical resources (by hiring more medical staff, and so on).

 

Enforcement

It should be clear, so far, that the State has a duty to enforce vaccination compliance, to protect the children of fools from the beliefs of those fools, and to protect the children of other people from same.

The question is now: what is the best way for the State to enforce compliance? What forms of enforcement achieve the goal of compliance, but minimise the amount of harm such enforcement necessarily entails?

The State could, of course, simply remove the children from the parents. This would seem, however, to be the maximally harmful choice assuming the only ‘problem’ with the parents is their choice about vaccinations: stripping children away from their parents is traumatic and likely to lead to all sorts of developmental problems for the kids.

The Australian Government has chosen to penalise parents through the tax system, not by adding an additional penalty, but by essentially saying “as you choose not to support the State and those people who dwell within the bounds of the State, so do we exempt you from certain benefits of dwelling within this State”. On the face of it, this seems like a good solution. However, I have mixed feelings about this.

Financial penalties disproportionally affect low-income families over middle or high-income families. A $2000 penalty is a devastating to a family on $20,000 a year, and a mild inconvenience to a family on $120,000 a year. One needs to look into the reasons for non-compliance and find out who the non-compliant group primarily consists of. If the group is mostly in the low-income bracket, because the cost of the vaccines are out of their reach, then this fine merely penalises the poor for being poor. If, on the other hand, the group primarily consists of the middle-to-high income families who are opting out for social/religious reasons, then the fine is much less problematic, but may not be effective. Furthermore, I’m concerned that this fine may be applied to families in the low-income bracket who simply forgot about the vaccine schedule, or their child was unavailable, or both parents were working, etc etc etc.

 

So: I think it’s entirely reasonable for a State to financially penalise families that choose not to vaccinate their children, both to disincentivise the risk that these parents are exposing their kids to (and the rest of the population), and to disincentivise the frivolous use of limited medical resources.

 

The best way to implement such a financial penalty? I’m not qualified to really drill down into this, but simple, across-the-board, flat rates make me wary.

 

Additionally: should someone show a reporter how to hold a baby prior to shooting the scene? I would have thought that that went without saying…

 

 

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Comments

  1. Dianne says

    Financial penalties disproportionally affect low-income families over middle or high-income families. A $2000 penalty is a devastating to a family on $20,000 a year, and a mild inconvenience to a family on $120,000 a year.

    I agree and feel that this is discrimination and unequal protection under the law. It would be better to have some sort of graded penalty based on income and assets so that a family making $20K suffers the same amount as one making $120K…or one officially making no money but holding billions of dollars in assets.

  2. Dianne says

    One needs to look into the reasons for non-compliance and find out who the non-compliant group primarily consists of. If the group is mostly in the low-income bracket, because the cost of the vaccines are out of their reach, then this fine merely penalises the poor for being poor.

    That’s an easy one to solve: Make the vaccines free. In fact, make it a requirement that parents’ employers give them the day off with pay and without penalty (i.e. not using up sick or vacation days) in order to have their child vaccinated. Hand out free bus tokens to poorer people so that they can get to the appointment without difficulty. All cheaper than hospitalizing patients with measles pneumonia or encephalitis.

  3. thaismcrc says

    Well, here in Brazil (where the anti-vaxxers have not arrived, thankfully), the government has chosen a different kind of incentive for poorer families. Here, vaccines are free (and it is one of the few things of our public health system that really works) and in order to be eligible for a governmental assistance program called Bolsa Família, the family’s children must be enrolled in and attend school and have all their vaccinations and doctor’s visits in order. I think there are also vaccination requirements in order to enrol children in schools, but I’m not so sure about that.

  4. ash says

    . As long as vaccinations are free and access is made available to those in special circumstances, the problem is diminished. Also, I imagine there would be reminders issued a number of times before the penalty took effect. These are the kinds of personal freedom issues we will be dealing with when we have to begin producing negative birthrates because of overpopulation.

  5. says

    The biggest danger is not to un-vaccinated children. It is to vaccinated children who are at risk because a vaccination did not take hold. And entire outbreak including deaths of children happens because of 1 child whose parents don’t care if they endanger the entire group. I’m happier if they’re forced to vaccinate and complain a bit now, rather than vaccinated children dying.

  6. Eric says

    Quick question – is what is lost a ‘tax credit of $2000′ or actually $2000 (per child). Is the amount lost proportionate to income (to use the example – would a family living on $20,000 actually lose $2000, or would it be $200 – while the rich are losing $2000 (not that it makes the penalty *that* much less burdensome))?

    As a question of modifying socially risky behavior, I have my doubts that this is going to be an effective policy. While I have only anecdotal evidence (and am unaware of any studies), my impression is that it is primarily middle- and upper-middle class parents who are not immunizing their children. Such a tax penalty may or may not affect their behavior very strongly – but what else to do (that would fly politically)?

  7. Brandon says

    Does the government of a country have the right to financially penalise a family for making choices that don’t directly affect anyone else?

    This set off some serious alarm bells for me. Are you sure you’re sufficiently familiar with herd immunity and its relevance in public health to make this argument? While it depends, to some extent, on the specific vaccine, it’s typically accepted that ~85% of the population needs to be immunized for herd immunity to be effective. Herd immunity is quite critical for those that are either immunocompromised or otherwise unable to obtain vaccines. Surely this has to play into any moral argument regarding whether obligatory vaccination (or penalties for not vaccinating) are appropriate; it’s not just the individual who’s not being immunized that’s affected.

  8. Alecthar says

    Finish the rest of the post, Crommunist goes on to say that vaccination isn’t just a personal choice (so to speak).

  9. Alecthar says

    While you’re right that vaccinated children are still sometimes at risk for vaccine-preventable disease, I’m not sure there’s really a distinction between groups as to what the “biggest” danger is. Suffice it to say that children who are vulnerable to a particular disease are endangered by parents who have children that they could vaccinate, but have failed to, either because of an erroneous belief in their dangers, or because of expense or the like.

  10. Makoto says

    I think a simple, flat rate, combined with free vaccines and opt-outs for health reason (as you state, compromised immune systems and such) will likely handle the bulk of the problem. Sure, there are rich families that can absorb the annual cost, whether per child or per family, of being anti-vax. But a lot of families would feel the pain of that $2000 penalty, so it’s a decent start.

    It’s also a lot easier to put up a flat rate penalty than a graduated scale, lest you get accused of class warfare. So I can see why they used this approach, again, at least as a start. Let’s see if it becomes effective or needs adjustment.

  11. says

    Australia does have a public health system, you know. Vaccines aren’t a massive expenditure for parents. And there’s a medical exemption for the immune-compromised kids – see here http://immunise.health.gov.au/internet/immunise/publishing.nsf/Content/faq-related-payments#exemptions – so I have no problem with this.

    Where I do have an issue is that I’m not sure if they’re tightening up the old conscientious objector exemption. (The old scheme was a different form of benefit to vaccinating parents; this is a change from a payment to a tax credit.) Anyway, I hope so. It does have to involve the vaccine provider now, not just a form to fill in.

  12. Didaktylos says

    No matter how great the take-up rate for an immunisation program, there is always a slight risk of individual cases of the disease in question. Where Public Health in general is concerned, the task is to ensure that individual cases don’t spark major epidemics. In this situation, there is a concept called “herd immunity” – when a sufficiently large majority of the population is immune/resistant, any individual outbreak soon burns itself out, because susceptible individuals are sufficiently few and far between. To maintain herd immunity, the number of susceptible individuals must be kept as low as possible: ideally only those for whom the risks of receiving the vaccine are unacceptably high; for practical purposes a small number of newly eligible for whom take-up is delayed can be tolerated because the odds are that they will be immunised before they are exposed to the disease. Wilful refusal to join the program will in the long run undermine herd immmunity.

  13. ambulocetacean says

    Everything that is charged/levied/penalised at a flat rate disproportionately affects the poor — speeding fines, sales tax, electricity bills, the lot.

    If your main point is that “simple, across-the-board, flat rates make me wary”, why focus on the withdrawal of a tax credit in order to encourage vaccination, of all things?

    I agree with what you’re saying in principle; I just think vaccination is odd choice to use as an example.

    The Oz government decision isn’t just a matter of expenditure cutting/revenue raising. In the past several years, seven or eight Australian kids have died of whooping cough, and there have been many thousands of cases across the country.

    Most, if not all, of the kids who died were too young to be vaccinated (or to be fully vaccinated).

    I suspect that a big, overlooked part of the problem is adults not realising that they no longer have immunity from childhood vaccinations. I never realised that until a couple of years ago, at which point I promptly went out and got a whooping cough booster shot.

    I think there should be a big awareness campaign and a carrot and/or stick for adults to make sure their own vaccinations are up to date.

  14. Brian Lynchehaun says

    The whole abuse of the ‘class warfare’ schtick is an artifact of the US political system. Avoiding something because you’re concerned that you’ll be accused of something-that-isn’t-true empowers the bullies and scum.

  15. Brian Lynchehaun says

    If your main point is that “simple, across-the-board, flat rates make me wary”, why focus on the withdrawal of a tax credit in order to encourage vaccination, of all things?

    My main point is to push back against the notion that people have an unlimited right to act in accordance with their “conscience” without state interference.

    The withdrawal of a tax credit in order to encourage vaccination is a perfect case study for that.

  16. ambulocetacean says

    Ah, well, I agree with that too. It seems that I managed to misidentify the main thrust of your piece, even as I agreed with it. My apologies. I plead lack of caffeine and general obtuseness.

  17. Ysanne says

    The whole linked report is plain wrong and full of false claims.

    First some background on Australian Family Assistance…
    1) Complete immunisation records were required to get Family Assistance money for at least over a year. (Haven’t had to do with Australian tax office before that.)

    2) There are a number of exemptions from the immunisation requirement, e.g. medical contraindications, but also “conscientous objection”, for which you basically need your doctor to certify that they explained how this anti-vax stuff is wrong and irresponsible, but you decided against getting your kid immunised anyway. This includes religious reasons, too. It’s not hard at all.

    3) Childcare centres and schools also accept non-immunised kids, based on the same exemptions. Only difficulty for them: If there’s an outbreak of some illness, they can be excluded for the duration of it, even if they personally are not affected at all.

    3) Family Assistance has a number of different parts, including direct payments going to low-income families, various contributions to child-care bills, parental leave payments and some non-income-tested payments of fixed amounts.

    Sooooo… while I think that anti-vaccination is a bunch of big and harmful BS, the report is just plain wrong and the “news” in it simply made up.

  18. Sophia Dodds says

    As an Australian myself, I can only speak from my own experience on this matter. I saw the headline and was immediately… well, happy about it. Far too many people over here have bought into the anti-vaxxer nonsense because of a huge movement that’s made ‘alternative medical viewpoints’ into the new medical norm. We have an effective public health care system, which I have to take full advantage of as someone with both recurring physical and mental issues and no income of my own. (No, not even any kind of government payout. I don’t agree that I should be given money whilst not working.)

    The AVN (www.avn.org.au/) is an annoyingly prominent assicoation in the media, and even reading the online google search summary it’s a goldmine of misinformation. In short, they’re anti-vaxxers through and through, though the website seems to suggest they’re a legitimate medical resource for concerned parents. People can and do use them as their ONLY resource to learn about immunisation! From what I gather, the government is simply trying to combat the misinformation by offering a very REAL incentive to do the responsible thing and have their children protected against diseases. The bonus they’re talking about witholding is a one-time payment they throw to anyone who produces a child. Our politicians are… well, usually staggeringly inept at the best of times. This is actually a step towards combating the virulent acceptance of misinformation by the general public. It might be the only thing that works.

    The cost of vaccinating children over here is quite, quite low. In fact, I’m not even sure if you have to pay the cost of the vaccine itself – public schools bring in vaccination vans that immunise children for free with a signed letter of consent from their parents. I’m pretty sure that even if you go to your regular doctor you only pay for the consultation if the vaccine is one of the standard ones. If I’m wrong, I’ll soon find out as I’m about to produce one of those children myself.

    I’m all for freedom of choice in everything that doesn’t harm others – not vaccinating CAN harm others, and if the climate of lies surrounding vaccination does’t clear up soon, there’s a very real chance the anti-vaxxers will do some serious damage to the health of larger populations.

    My two cents. I know a lot of people will disagree, but knowing the social climate over here really helps to highlight the need for this sort of thing.

  19. Brian Lynchehaun says

    1) You do realise that the Aljazeera piece was merely a jumping-off point for the article, right? That the accuracy of the piece has no bearing on the meat of my article at all?

    2) On the Aljazeera page, there is a “send feedback”. If you are genuinely concerned about factual errors, an effective action would be to contact the news agency that made the mistakes, rather than posting the comments on an entirely unrelated blog where the factual errors are of no relevance at all.

  20. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Thanks for sharing, I appreciate you taking the time.

    I’ve heard quite a few things about the AVN, none of them good…

  21. Ysanne says

    No worries, I do realise that it was mainly the “a propos”.
    However, I always find it nice when the main example used in a piece is a real event and not just made-up bullshit; particularly so when it comes up as a point of reference in the ensuing discussion.
    I completely understand that the fact-checking of something like this is not fun, and I would certainly not want to put anyone through the fun experience of reading up on Australian family law and and taxation from scratch. But now that I’ve suffered through it, at least it’s useful to put some things in perspective.

  22. Ysanne says

    PS Summarizing the above points in 250 characters was a nice exercise in brevity and to-the-point wording.

  23. P Smith says

    The problem with this situation is that it’s not the parents who will suffer from not being immunized, their children will. If only the parents were affected, I’d say let them pay for their own care or suffer the consequences of the disease.

    We penalize reckless parents who don’t put their children into proper seatbelts and baby seats in cars. Why shouldn’t we penalize reckless parents who don’t take proper care of their children’s health?

    .

  24. says

    “it’s a simple fact that not-vaccinating is more risky”. Risk management is weighing costs and benefits. Costs and benefits are subjective so it is logically unsound to call people who value these differently as ‘fools’.

    The social responsibility obligation is weak. Assuming a right of association, or rather non-association, people may find elaborate and creative ways not to associate with unvacs. School: when you choose your school you chose your associations, same principle. The remedy for choice is more choice.

    Now consider if, for the author’s reasons or for other reasons, the responsibility of risk management for a minor was given to the community rather than to the guardian. Is there reason to assume that the community would make better decisions than the guardian? Public choice theory says they will make worse decisions.

    Children develop best when they have intimate emotional connections with people. So I support empowering people to be spontaneous and caring of the children in their lives. If I see abuse I may take action, otherwise the only moral intervention is peaceful persuasion.

  25. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Costs and benefits are subjective

    No, they’re largely not.

    There is a calcuable risk of death from measles, and there is a calcuable risk of death from the vaccine against measles. These are not “subjective”, but objective and measurable. One of them is lower than the other (hint: vaccinating is not more risky than not-vaccinating).

    it is logically unsound to call people who value these differently as ‘fools’.

    Those words don’t mean what you seem to think they mean.

    The social responsibility obligation is weak. Assuming a right of association, or rather non-association, people may find elaborate and creative ways not to associate with unvacs. School: when you choose your school you chose your associations, same principle. The remedy for choice is more choice.

    Yes, because people who are in the risky position can choose to avoid supermarkets where people who have ‘chosen’ to not-vaccinate frequent. Oh, wait, people who don’t vaccinate don’t broadcast that fact.

    Ditto airports. Ditto shopping malls.

    The fact of the matter is that people who don’t vaccinate increase the transmission rate of the illness. Even if they don’t have direct contact with an unvaccinated person, their presence in the system increases the risk to the unvaccinated-without-choice person.

    But hey, screw them, right?

    Now consider if, for the author’s reasons or for other reasons, the responsibility of risk management for a minor was given to the community rather than to the guardian.

    Why would we do that? That doesn’t make any sense at all.

    Children develop best when they have intimate emotional connections with people.

    This has, apparently, nothing to do with the topic at hand.

    So I support empowering people to be spontaneous and caring of the children in their lives.

    And you also appear to support saying “screw you” to people with medically compromised immune systems.

    If I see abuse I may take action, otherwise the only moral intervention is peaceful persuasion.

    Harm is present in a variety of situations, only one of which is abuse.

  26. says

    Let’s see if we can deal with the easy ones, then deal with the harder ones if we make any head way.

    I will switch to polio to make the point clearer. Let’s assume that you knew for certain the odds (even though this is only possible in idealized scenarios) of effects of getting a polio vaccine or not. Further lets plug in some numbers. Suppose that with the vaccine would eliminate the possibility of getting polio but would offer a 1:1000 chance of developing a dry patch of skin on the back of your hand. Suppose without the vaccine there was a 4:5 chance of debilitating physical impairment. That is to say, suppose the cost and benefits are of different kinds, though easily ordered by you and me.

    The value of these effects are subjective even though the odds are (theoretically) objective. There is no objective argument to order one over the other for everybody. Search subjective value theory for more on this.

    Switching back over to your measles example, assuming death was the only effect to consider, death by measles and death by vaccine can be considered different kinds of effects that cannot be objectively ordered. As death by stoning is different from death by aneurysm.

    Clear? Can we move on?

  27. outeast says

    To back up your argument with Evidence From Anecdote (always valid, that is)… My parents were unable to vaccinate me against whooping cough as a child for medical reasons; and this coincided with one of the many, many waves of anti-vax nonsense. As a consequence of depleted herd immunity due to parents’ ‘principled’ refusals to vaccinate, there was an outbreak of whooping cough – which I, unvaccinated for medical reasons, promply caught. I’ve had lung problems throughout my life as a result.

  28. outeast says

    Ashley Johnston

    Why bother with suppositions when the risks of both measles and the measles vaccine are pretty much known quantities? There’s a good and useful visualization here.

    Parents who object to vaccines are often in the enviable position of being culturally innoculated from the diseases at issue thanks to the willingness of other parents to innoculate: they are basically benefitting from the actions of others, while refusing to contribute to herd immnunity themselves (making a risk assessment based on the fact that the actual risk of infection is low; file under: rational parasite). But there’s a catch: high rates of immunization are required for the herd – society, the community – to reap the benefits (see here. The herd can only feed so many parasites before the risks change, and change dramatically.

    Then, too: the costs of noncompliance with vaccination programmes are not limited to the parent or even to the unvaccinated child. Measles outbreaks attributed to non-vaccination in local communities have killed more people than the vaccine, and in far less time (not that that’s hard, since serious adverse responses to the vaccine are so rare).

    Finally there are the simple economics of it. Vaccination is a hell of a lot cheaper than treating measles (across a population). Not an irrelevant consideration.

  29. outeast says

    Subjective risk is a distraction since people are such apalling judges of probabilities – and hence are abysmal judges of risk (even when correctly informed, which they almost never are). That’s one of the core reasons for having public health policy in the first place…

  30. Brian Lynchehaun says

    I may address this if we can get passed subjective risk.

    Awesome.

    This is one of those “I will not discuss relevant things until you discuss this highly irrelevant thing” moves.

    If this was relevant, it’d be a fair approach (some folk simply refuse to focus on or address relevant points that are raised, y’know, like you ignored the bulk of my response above). But this Subjective Value Theory is not relevant.

    If you haven’t understood anything I wrote so far you probably won’t understand anything else I write.

    To paraphrase: “if you disagree with me, then you are stupid”.

    Sure, you’re not an arrogant twerp at all. There’s no possible way for you to be incorrect, and no possible way for Subjective Value Theory to be completely irrelevant to the topic at hand.

    I’m sure that the irony of this is lost on you, person who wants to use made up numbers to argue an irrelevant point claiming that people who disagree don’t understand their point…

    I’ll address your ignorance when I get back from running some errands.

  31. Brian Lynchehaun says

    Further lets plug in some numbers.

    Please. You mean to say “let’s make up some numbers”.

    Suppose that with the vaccine would eliminate the possibility of getting polio but would offer a 1:1000 chance of developing a dry patch of skin on the back of your hand. Suppose without the vaccine there was a 4:5 chance of debilitating physical impairment. That is to say, suppose the cost and benefits are of different kinds, though easily ordered by you and me.

    Your argument is that there exists someone, somewhere, for whom paralysis (the typical result of polio) is preferable to a patch of dry skin on the back of their hand.

    That person would clearly be against moisturisers of all sorts, and would take great pains to avoid living in a climate that causes their skin to dry. They would, in fact, prefer living in a physically dangerous environment to a merely windy environment. Because, y’know, they’re not irrational.

    Please present such a person.

    Also, please explain why it’s acceptable for such a person to refuse to innoculate their children based on this preference.

    There is no objective argument to order one over the other for everybody.

    Please explain the relevance of this point.

    Switching back over to your measles example, assuming death was the only effect to consider, death by measles and death by vaccine can be considered different kinds of effects that cannot be objectively ordered.

    Yes, they can. Just asserting that they can’t be ordered isn’t an argument, it’s an unjustified opinion. Just for clarity sake: you are aware of the difference between “objective” and “universal”, right? Objective meaning that if an individual holds a rational and consistent measuring system of preferences, if we use their preferences to order things then we will come to the same conclusions as them. Yes, their specific preferences are subjective, but the subsequent ranking of choices would be objective.

    How can they be ordered objectively? Like so:

    Ask the person to rank ‘death in general’ numerically, on an open-ended scale.
    Ask the person to give a list of modifying preferences regarding how that death occurs (by accident cause by self, by accident caused by other, by choice of self, by choice of other, by natural cause, prolonged, painful, quick, etc, etc).

    Once the numerical ranking and modifiers are provided, specific combinations can be determined. Contradictions should be resolved at this point.

    After that, ask the individual to factor in the likelihood of particular events. Death-by-measles is significantly more likely (yes, even factoring in the chance of exposure) than death-by-measle-vaccines. By several orders of magnitude.

    If a person simply asserts that death-by-vaccine is always worse than death-by-disease, regardless of the likelihood, then that person has a non-rational ranking system.

    Clear? Can we move on?

    Yes, you are clear.

    And wrong. If you disagree, please justify your assertions.

    Furthermore, you need to justify why you believe it’s acceptable for someone to increase the risk of death of people around them simply because they place a high value on not-getting-vaccinated.

  32. says

    “Please present such a person.”

    This is the comment that typifies why I am out.

    I never considered the difference between objective and universal. I will check it out. Thx.

  33. says

    I don’t mind that either you disagree with me. I have engaged you knowing that you disagree with me. What I mind is that you have not found any value in any of what I have presented. From my perspective it looks as though that is because you didn’t understand it (‘Please present such a person’ and ‘Please. You mean to say “let’s make up some numbers”’), or in OUTEAST’s case it looks like he didn’t even bother to read it.

    Further I am trying to bring order to this discussion and you seem intent on going everywhere at once. You presented your reasons A, B, and C in your article. I presented my objection 1, 2, and 3 in my reply. You replied your objections to my objections. And I was not convinced by your counter-objections. At this point we should probably pick a trail and stick to it.

    If there is another single point that you want to run down I may consider engaging if you can demonstrate you understand, though not necessarily agree with, all that I have written about that point thus far.

    I might have more patience if you didn’t have a degree in philosophy. If you can’t get some of these skills in college then I probably don’t have much hope helping you.

  34. Brian Lynchehaun says

    I don’t mind that either you disagree with me. I have engaged you knowing that you disagree with me. What I mind is that you have not found any value in any of what I have presented.

    You don’t mind that I disagree with you, but you mind that I disagree with you?

    Do you understand the concept of “incoherence”, and how you are exemplifying it right now?

    From my perspective it looks as though that is because you didn’t understand it (‘Please present such a person’ and ‘Please. You mean to say “let’s make up some numbers”’)

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non_sequitur_(logic)

    My commentary on your use of bullshit to make an argument does not lead to the conclusion that I don’t understand your point.

    Your claim does not follow.

    And I was not convinced by your counter-objections.

    No, you asserted that I didn’t understand your claims. That is entirely different from “I was not convinced”.

    If you disagree, explain your disagreement (as I did, at length). Merely asserting that you disagree (and nothing else) renders your input irrelevant.

    If there is another single point that you want to run down I may consider engaging if you can demonstrate you understand, though not necessarily agree with, all that I have written about that point thus far.

    *Yawn*

    I might have more patience if you didn’t have a degree in philosophy. If you can’t get some of these skills in college then I probably don’t have much hope helping you.

    I have explained, at length, how your point is both wrong and irrelevant.

    You have asserted that I don’t understand your claim.

    You have not provided evidence for this assertion. You have not provided warrant for this assertion. You have simply made unjustified assertions.

    And then assumed that you are in a position to lecture about who doesn’t have what skills.

    The appropriate response to this is:

    A) Provide evidence and warrant for your claims.

    or

    B) Go away.

    Your call. Any further comments that consist merely of more baseless masturbation assertions will be ignored.

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