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Justice Sandel And On Immunity Vaccination

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In relation to Michael Sandel’s Justice, Jeremy Bentham’s theory draws a fine line between the decision on whether to vaccinate or not to vaccinate. According to Bentham, utilitarianism is defined as “maximizing the happiness of the community as a whole” (Sandel 34). In relation to Biss’ argument, although being vaccinated results in this “euphoria” that consists of happiness, pleasure, and the idea of being pain free, what is the real cause for this jolt of skepticism? There is some understanding behind why people assume that vaccination “fails to respect individual rights”, but, it comes to point where we need to accept the risks. One of the reasons why utilitarianism is not effective is because of the idea of fear. The moment we let stress and anxiety rule our decisions is when we neglect the possibility of success to take place. Ultimately, fear inhibits “subtle coercions” which eventually stirs up failure.

In one of Jeremy Bentham’s examples of utilitarianism, he mentions a project called the Panopticon. The Panopticon is a concept where a watchtower would be placed in the middle of a prison in order to allow the guard to “observe the inmates without them seeing him” (Sandel 35). This presumably caused great distress amongst the prisoners and this “tower” was symbolic of some type of fear. As a result, the project was cancelled indefinitely. In relation to Biss’ On Immunity, Bentham’s proposal surely narrows in on the idea of terror and how there is this conscious factor that each person feels. This “fear”, as you can say, is not visible; however, it is present in the minds of each individual and guides a person to be “self governed”. For example, in Biss’ argument for vaccination, people are frightened by what the vaccine will cause and the consequence of how their bodies will react. It is the notion of the “unknown” which motivates the person to decide whether to vaccinate or not to vaccinate. But, as said earlier, it is essential for society to take these risks. Would you rather hide and wait for a disease or illness to slowly creep in, or would you rather take a chance for a better life and opportunity. Eula Biss is an advocate for giving towards the “herd” and stresses that if we refuse, our society will suffer the consequences of evaluating the risks.

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On the other side of the table, being mandated to promote towards the herd, or anything in general, is a violation against our individual rights as humans. For one reason, we are the sole proprietors of our body. We should and can decide what we do with our bodies and what we put in it. And the same case should be applied towards vaccination. There may be a strong case that vaccination is in fact beneficial, but nothing is factual. Time and time again we see examples of the harmful consequences that vaccines can do to the body. From the Dengue vaccine which ultimately resulted in life-threatening bleeding to the Gardasil vaccinations which increased the likelihood of cancer, these are just two examples of immunizations gone wrong. Therefore, in regards to our bodies as temples, it should be necessary for us to have the right to oppose a decision that involves our physical self. According to Sandel’s belief, libertarianism reflects on the claim that each of us has the “right to do whatever we want with the things we own, provided that we respect other people’s right to do the same” (Sandel 60). This school of thought may seem agreeable and beneficial to our culture, but, what kindles controversy is the idea that we must respect other people’s individual rights as well. In reference to Eula Biss’ On Immunity, she stresses this attitude of giving to the community. Saying that we must all contribute towards the “herd” and if we disagree, then our society will suffer the repercussions of those who fail to immunize themselves. Therefore, the question that we need to answer is when is it acceptable to intrude upon a person’s rights and when to back off. It is a controversial subject because of its pure broadness; however, I feel as if there has to be a solution to mitigate both sides of the table.

Is there a solution? Is there a social contract that our society can follow without interfering with the rights of others around us? The answer will always be no and the reason for that is because we as humans are not programmed the same way. Each of us carry different values, beliefs, interests and when we explore any type of subject, there is bound to be disagreement from each side of the spectrum. Although we may not have the ability to formulate a perfect solution, there is always the ability to make something “better” for the wellness of society. With that in mind, I believe that when an issue affects the society as a whole, we need put down this individualized barrier and aid in the betterment of mankind. Going back to Biss’ argument, “herd immunity” is a great example of a necessary issue that needs to be resolved as one. (Lay out example) Vaccination impacts the wellness of every one of us. What you do with your body will determine the health and wellness of my body. We are all somehow interconnected through this ideology and when we fail to acknowledge its imperativeness, that is the moment we suffer the inevitable results.

From Eula Biss’ On Immunity to Michael Sandel’s Justice, both have at least one relationship with one another. And that is the necessity for dependence. In a deeper context, society’s issue with vaccination is not its naturality or the respect for personal rights, but it is the fear of the “unknown” which causes dissatisfaction. What they fear is what they cannot see, and although we need to respect the individual rights of our neighbors, we also need to evaluate the risks not only for ourselves, but for the community as a whole. Our society is not perfect, and because of that, we will never have a flawless concept that everyone can agree on. But that’s ok. Just like in history, we learn from our triumphs and mistakes in order to come to an answer. And with that, there is no clear cut solution to the issue regarding whether to vaccinate or not to. But at the end of the day, are we content with the risks of diseases slowly invading our lives, or should we take the matter into our own hands and contribute towards the “herd” for the betterment of mankind.

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Justice Sandel And On Immunity Vaccination. (2022, February 17). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 30, 2023, from
“Justice Sandel And On Immunity Vaccination.” Edubirdie, 17 Feb. 2022,
Justice Sandel And On Immunity Vaccination. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 30 Sept. 2023].
Justice Sandel And On Immunity Vaccination [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Feb 17 [cited 2023 Sept 30]. Available from:
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