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Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility

Public Scholar Lecture

Are Vaccine Mandates A Matter of Conscience?

2021Alida-LibermanWe are proud to announce SMU Associate Professor Alida Liberman, Ph.D., will give the 2021 Maguire Public Scholar Lecture. 

Her lecture will address whether exemptions to COVID-19 vaccine mandates (e.g., from an employer or university) should be accommodated as conscientious objections, understood as penalty-free exemptions to a law or policy based on moral or religious disagreement with the policy. Liberman develops a framework for assessing the legitimacy of conscientious objection claims by determining whether they violate the basic competencies needed to be a minimally decent member of a profession or community. In the case of vaccine mandates, these include epistemic competencies (such as avoiding relying on factual misunderstandings when making community-impacting decisions), relational competencies (such as avoiding free-riding and refraining from harming others in the exercise of your liberties), and normative competencies (which require having an accurate understanding of what you are responsible for and how your actions affect others). Liberman will argue many vaccine refusals violate one or more of these competencies, and accordingly should not be permitted as a matter of conscientious objection.

 

 

About the Public Scholar Lectures

From the Center's earliest years, we have showcased the university's most exciting scholars in our Public Scholar lecture series. Many Public Scholar lectures have been published in slightly revised form as Occasional Papers of the Center. For more information on the series and to view past scholars, please click here.