Research Thursdays - The research of Justin Bernstein focuses on questions in political philosophy, bioethics and the intersection of the two

Justin Bernstein, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and member of FAU’s Center for the Future Mind


Thursday, Mar 11, 2021

The research of Justin Bernstein, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Philosophy and member of FAU’s Center for the Future Mind, focuses on questions in political philosophy, bioethics and the intersection of the two. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, he has published several articles centered around questions about the ethics of vaccination. 

Some of Bernstein’s work focuses on how vaccines should be distributed when demand outstrips supply. To this end, Justin co-authored an ethics framework designed to help the CDC make recommendations about who should be prioritized for the COVID-19 vaccine.

Interim Framework for Covid-19 Vaccine Allocation and Distribution in the United States,” was published by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security in August 2020

The article considers a few distinct values. For instance, it considers how vaccine allocation can promote the common good by promoting public health and also by enabling social and economic activity. It also discusses the importance of treating individuals fairly and promoting social equity, for example by addressing racial and ethnic disparities in COVID mortality, and by recognizing the contributions of essential workers who have been overlooked in previous allocation schemes. Finally, the framework includes a third ethical value not often well-articulated in ethics discussions of vaccine allocation, the promotion of legitimacy, trust and a sense of community ownership over vaccine policy. 

In other co-authored work, Bernstein’s research perspective considers difficult questions about whether the government has the right to require citizens to get vaccinated, or whether this constitutes an illegitimate infringement on individual liberty. 

The third perspective of Bernstein’s research focuses less on government decision-making about vaccines and more on individual obligations that are relevant to vaccination behavior. 

Bernstein discusses all of this work in a recent episode of the podcast, Back In America
More information on Bernstein’s work can be found here: fau.edu/artsandletters/philosophy/ justin-bernstein/


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