Prophylaxis is wrong

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Prophylaxis is wrong is a family of arguments made in the context of medical or public health debates in which a prophylactic treatment or policy is opposed. A prophylactic medical treatment is defined as any treatment or procedure which seeks to prevent illness rather than treat it. These might include:

  • vaccines meant to protect against potential future diseases (both common and rare)
  • booster doses of vaccines (e.g., a tetanus shot given after possible exposure to the pathogen)
  • antibiotics (e.g., when given to a patient undergoing surgery)
  • antiviral therapies (e.g., drugs that are meant to prevent transmission of HIV)
  • preemptive surgical removal of body parts in healthy individuals (e.g., circumcision, appendectomy, mastectomy)
  • taking of nutritional supplements to prevent illness

Avoidance behaviours that pose a risk of illness will not be considered (e.g., not smoking to avoid lung cancer). Only active interventions will be considered as prophylactic.

Arguments for and against prophylaxis, both from a deontological (rule-based) and consequentialist perspective will be weighed against each other.

Statement of the claim Prophylaxis is wrong
Level of certainty Ethical preference
Nature Ethical
Counterclaim Prophylaxis is right
Dependent on

Dependency of