A.n February 4, 2021, the German Ethics Council publishes an ad hoc recommendation under the heading: “Special rules for vaccinated people?” It is the time when the vaccination campaign gets going, albeit extremely slowly. The Council refuses to guarantee those who have been vaccinated twice the freedom they have always been entitled to. The title of the paper is telltale: As if it were about “special” rules, a kind of gift from the authorities! A citizen’s freedom is the norm in the liberal state, not the exception. It is to be feared “that part of the population will perceive an individual withdrawal of state restrictions on freedom as unjust only for those who have already been vaccinated,” says the paper. This in turn could “reduce the solidarity of the citizens and the willingness to obey the rules”.
Precisely this argument of a threatening “two-class society” was heard from politicians of all parties (up to the “free” democrats) last winter. At that time there was a huge fear of those who opposed the vaccination, who could see the preference for the vaccinated as an implicit compulsory vaccination. It is understandable that politicians are afraid of this; they also want to be elected by those who oppose vaccination. But the Ethics Council sells a sheer “feeling of injustice” as a philosophical argument. They would not have let any student in the proseminar get away with that. Why are you using it here? Because there would have been a public Kladderadatsch in February 2021, the ethicists would have voted for immediate civil liberty. Today the Ethics Council is discussing compulsory vaccination. As it just fits.
Government measures “scientifically” confirmed
The National Ethics Council is an advisory body set up by the Federal Government. Its members are proposed by the Bundestag and the Federal Government and appointed by the Federal President. The independence of the members is to be ensured by prohibiting simultaneous membership in parliament or government. That doesn’t change the fact that such recommendations meet the facts of fellowship. The aim is not advice from experts, but the “scientific” confirmation of government measures to the public, says Konstanz economist Friedrich Breyer. A world that believes in science needs legitimation bodies for political action.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, it has been teeming with experts. The most active is Karl Lauterbach, a kind of one-man think tank who is a coalition member, opposition politician, epidemiologist and government advisor rolled into one. As a rule, the closer an advisor is involved in official government councils, the more affirmative his advice is to politics.
The chum on the Ethics Council is systematic. Of course, the government only appoints experts to such committees who can expect public support for their positions. The fact that “free market” attitudes are out of fashion cost the Freiburg economics professor and director of the Walter Eucken Institute, Lars Feld, to be reappointed to the council of experts to assess macroeconomic developments (“five ways”).