Article

Public Health Programs and Policies: Ethical Justifications

Ruth R. Faden and Sirine Shebaya

in The Oxford Handbook of Public Health Ethics

ISBN: 9780190245191
Published online January 2019 | e-ISBN: 9780190245207 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190245191.013.3
Public Health Programs and Policies: Ethical Justifications

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Public health policies sometimes make demands on individuals who do not stand to benefit from the policies, and they sometimes interfere with liberty even when they do benefit the individuals in question. In such instances, a moral justification for a public health intervention is required. This chapter sets forth five justifications for public health interventions: (1) overall benefit, (2) collective action and efficiency, (3) fairness in the distribution of burdens, (4) prevention of harm (the harm principle), and (5) paternalism. The chapter discusses each justification in turn, posits that often more than one justification applies to a given policy, and argues against frameworks that place disproportionate attention on conflicts between liberty and health.

Keywords: public health policies; liberty; collective action; efficiency; fairness; harm principle; paternalism

Article.  5349 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy ; Social and Political Philosophy

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