Yes, if the proverbial Martians threaten to blow up the entire planet (we cannot stop them, we cannot reason with them) unless someone murders innocent person Joe, it is still murder. The person who murders Joe might well be a hero (he’ll be featured in my next book, volume III of my Defending series) but, if libertarianism is to rule, this heroic murderer is still a murderer, and must pay the penalty for his crime, unless forgiven by Joe’s heirs.
So “justified murder” is indeed a logical contradiction. It not only offends libertarianism, it offends logic as well.
What about justified compulsory vaccination? Is that, too, a logical contradiction? Is the person who compels someone else to be vaccinated necessarily violating the non-aggression principle of libertarianism? I think not. Why not? That is because infecting an innocent person with a contagious disease can be considered a crime; if the only way to stop this criminal behavior is via a vaccination (or house arrest), then that is not only compatible with the NAP it is required by the NAP. I abstract here from all sort of complications, such as the vaccination does not work, it harms people forced to take it, etc.
Many readers of this blog sharply disagree with me on this matter. Here are some of the correspondences I have had with several of them:
From: Rick Fisk
Sent: Sunday, May 10, 2020 6:50 PM
Subject: Forced Vaccinations
The idea that people who don’t get vaccinated endanger people who are vaccinated has to be one of the most illogical canards used in the vaccine debate.
It’s not even based on anything remotely scientific even if vaccines provide efficacy and there’s a good deal of evidence suggesting they don’t. Take the small pox vaccine for instance, we have three examples of populations where they had 100% vaccination rates (actually the rates exceeded 100% because many people were vaccinated two and three times) and the population still suffered massive and increasingly deadly small pox epidemics: Japan, The Philippines and the British Navy. In the Philippines, a population of 10 million according to the 1920 census, the US military and the Philippine government administered 38 million smallpox vaccines between 1913 and 1918. In 1918, and 1919 they had the worst small pox epidemics recorded, the 1919 event having a mortality rate of over 60%.
If vaccines are effective, then a person who is vaccinated has nothing to fear from a non-vaccinated person. Saying that the unvaccinated endanger the general population is tacit admission that vaccines do not work. Hardly a good argument for forcing them on people.
Au contraire, “The idea that people who don’t get vaccinated endanger people who are vaccinated” is an empirical claim. As an economist, and a libertarian, I have no comparative advantage in assessing it truth or falsehood.
Did you hear the can opener joke? A physicist, a chemist and an economist were marooned on an island. They had plenty of cans of food, but no can opener. The physicist said, “let’s drop the cans from a certain height, onto rocks of a certain hardness, and the cans will open.” The chemist said, that’s pretty good, but I can do better. Let’s heat up the cans to a certain degree, they’ll open, and we’ll have hot food.” They both turn to the economist, asking him for his contribution to this deliberation. He says: “Assume a can opener.”
There’s a lot of truth in this claim. We economists never have controlled experiments, particularly not double blind ones. We have to assume things, and follow the logic thereafter. In my attempt to analyse the Covid 19, I make lots of assumptions. One of them is “that people who don’t get vaccinated endanger people who are vaccinated.” Is this totally illicit on my part.Is it a logical contradiction for this to be the case? I don’t think so.
I think libertarians qua libertarians should be more modest in their claims about empirical reality, nowadays concerning epidemiology.
Sent: Sunday, May 10, 2020 3:53 PM
To: Walter Block <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: FORCED injections in the name of the *NAP*
Thanks for responding.
I know you’re no fan of the USGovernment 🙂
I was posing a hypothetical, which i *thought* would apply per your statement:
“I think there could be circumstances in which compulsory vaccination would be required by law”
But i now see that my hypothetical falsely assumed that you’d support mandatory vaccinations
*regardless* of the circumstances (which was not my intent).
So to restate my objection:
I fail to see *any* circumstances in which mandatory vaccinations (i.e. *forced* injections) could be compatible with the NAP (let alone done *in the name* of the NAP!).
This would be initiating aggression upon a person because of what the aggressor(s)
*thinks* (or *claims* to think) *might* happen to others.
Such reasoning could serve as justification for all manner of tyranny!
Dear Mark, you say this: ” I fail to see *any* circumstances in which mandatory vaccinations (i.e. *forced* injections) could be compatible with the NAP (let alone done *in the name* of the NAP!).”
Here’s a circumstance:
A has a virus. He can get a vaccination injection guaranteed not to harm him, which will prevent it from spreading to others. For some reason, work with me here, B cannot get the injection (he’ll die from it), and will also perish if infected by A. This virus can travel thousands of miles. There is no way to protect B if A is not vaccinated. Under these admittedly extreme circumstances, if A refuses to get vaccinated, and B dies as a result of contagion from A, and we can prove this, I’d consider A a murderer. Murder is incompatible with the NAP. QED.
That is to say, there are possible circumstances in which I would indeed support mandatory vaccinations
Sent: Sunday, May 10, 2020 8:04 PM
Subject: vaccinations? quarantines?
I was surprised to see your endorsement of the idea of forcing people to take vaccines. I think it violates the NAP.
1) Nuremberg Code: “informed consent” is required for medical treatment/testing (a NAP principle).
2) You seem to endorse “greatest good for the greatest number” over individual choice. Isn’t that one of the “definitions” of communism?
3) Apparently you believe the pharmaceutical propaganda that “vaccines are safe”. Nothing is purely safe. I am not knowledgeable enough to quote you numbers of people killed and maimed from vaccines. Lots and lots.
4) Vaccine makers are legally immune from being sued from damages: act of congress.
5) The level of corruption and dishonesty related to pharmaceutical companies is off the charts.
If any of this piques your interest, I recommend Joe Mercola, Robert Kennedy, Barbara Loe Fisher (National Vaccine Information Center is related to either Kennedy of Fisher or both), and Dr. Malcolm Kendricks (“Doctoring Data” and “The Great Cholesterol Con”). Kendrick’s books are probably available in the public library). “Vaccines: A Reappraisal” by Richard Moskowitz may be out of print. I recommend “Doctoring Data” for starters.
p.s Most “anti-vaxxers” were “pro-vaxxers” until a loved one was killed or maimed from vaccines.
I am offering an “endorsement of the idea of forcing people to take vaccines” under certain very limited circumstances.
Are there no circumstances, none, zero, nada, under which the NAP would not only support forced vaccinations, but require them.
Can you not think of any, even science-fictionish circumstances, where this would be justified?
If not, then I have a wilder imagination than you.
If so, then it is merely an empirical issue, a matter of prudential judgement, whether or not that situation applies. And, we libertarians have no comparative advantage in deciding such matters.
Walter2:47 am on May 11, 2020 Email Walter E. Block