Journal Article

Public Health Ethics and Liberalism

Lubomira Radoilska

in Public Health Ethics

Volume 2, issue 2, pages 135-145
Published in print July 2009 | ISSN: 1754-9973
Published online June 2009 | e-ISSN: 1754-9981 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/phe/php010

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This paper defends a distinctly liberal approach to public health ethics and replies to possible objections. In particular, I look at a set of recent proposals aiming to revise and expand liberalism in light of public health's rationale and epidemiological findings. I argue that they fail to provide a sociologically informed version of liberalism. Instead, they rest on an implicit normative premise about the value of health, which I show to be invalid. I then make explicit the unobvious, republican background of these proposals. Finally, I expand on the liberal understanding of freedom as non-interference and show its advantages over the republican alternative of freedom as non-domination within the context of public health. The views of freedom I discuss in the paper do not overlap with the classical distinction between negative and positive freedom. In addition, my account differentiates the concepts of freedom and autonomy and does not rule out substantive accounts of the latter. Nor does it confine political liberalism to an essentially procedural form.

Journal Article.  7299 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy of Science ; Philosophy of Biology ; Bioethics and Medical Ethics ; Medical Ethics ; Public Health

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