Ethical Dimensions of Health Equity


in Challenging Inequities in Health

Published in print July 2001 | ISBN: 9780195137408
Published online September 2009 | e-ISBN: 9780199863983 | DOI:
Ethical Dimensions of Health Equity

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This chapter clarifies ethical concepts related to the complex issue of health equity. It discusses the concept of health, its causes, and distribution. It explores questions such as: What is equity in health? How is it linked to social justice? Why should we be concerned with inequities in health anyway? Can moral philosophy inform judgements about health equity? In doing so, the chapter reviews the relevance of existing theories of social justice to the underlying assumption that social inequalities in health are “unjust.” Utilitarianism and egalitarian theories are considered, before discussing the requirements of Rawlsian justice and the philosophical approach of Amartya Sen—the latter two placing the pursuit of health equity in the context of the larger pursuit of social justice.

Keywords: ethics; concepts; health equity; social justice; Rawlsian justice; Amartya Sen

Chapter.  5940 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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