Professor lectures on cultural reasons for vaccinations

As part of its ongoing philosophy speaker series, Eastern Michigan University welcomed Oakland University professor Mark Navin Oct. 4, for a lecture titled “Vaccine Refusal: Social Liberals and Conservative Values” in Pray-Harrold.

During the lecture, Navin said there should be an evaluation of the moral and cultural reasons people aren’t getting vaccinated for diseases.

“It seems that many social liberals embrace vaccine refusal because they believe it promotes their values,” he said.

Navin pointed out that it may seem peculiar to have a philosopher speaking on the topic of vaccines, but said his goal was to redirect the argument away from politics and towards scientific evidence and experts in the field.

He said by turning this issue into a political debate, it could lead to a Republican or Democrat bias on the topic much like the global warming issue.

Navin also made the argument that both ends of the political spectrum seemingly are the most prone to not having their children vaccinated.

“If your opponent looks like your ally, it should probably be looked at with skepticism,” he said. “Parental refusal of child vaccinations is something worth studying.”

According to The National Vaccine Information Center, a non-profit educational organization, Michigan is one of 17 states that “allow exemption to vaccination based on philosophical, personal or conscientiously held beliefs.”

The information center also notes, “In many of these states, individuals must object to all vaccines, not just a particular vaccine in order to use the philosophical or personal belief exemption. Many state legislators are being urged by federal health officials and medical organizations to revoke this exemption to vaccination.”

There are currently three more speakers scheduled for the general philosophy series. Two of these speakers are from Michigan State University and one is from Grand Valley State University.

John Koolage, a philosophy professor at EMU, played a significant role in organizing the series of speakers. He said the themes of the lectures would be mostly social and political issues.

“We’re really excited to be introducing an annual speaker series in philosophy to EMU and the surrounding community,” he said.

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