Justice and Public Health

Govind Persad

in The Oxford Handbook of Public Health Ethics

ISBN: 9780190245191
Published online January 2019 | e-ISBN: 9780190245207 | DOI:
Justice and Public Health

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This chapter discusses how justice applies to public health. It begins by outlining three different metrics employed in discussions of justice: resources, capabilities, and welfare. It then discusses different accounts of justice in distribution, reviewing utilitarianism, egalitarianism, prioritarianism, and sufficientarianism, as well as desert-based theories, and applies these distributive approaches to public health examples. Next, it examines the interplay between distributive justice and individual rights, such as religious rights, property rights, and rights against discrimination, by discussing examples such as mandatory treatment and screening. The chapter also examines the nexus between public health and debates concerning whose interests matter to justice (the “scope of justice”), including global justice, intergenerational justice, and environmental justice, as well as debates concerning whether justice applies to individual choices or only to institutional structures (the “site of justice”). The chapter closes with a discussion of strategies, including deliberative and aggregative democracy, for adjudicating disagreements about justice.

Keywords: justice; public health ethics; distribution; egalitarianism; utilitarianism; welfare; resources; democracy; capabilities; rights

Article.  5224 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy ; Social and Political Philosophy

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