Justice, health, and status

Theoria 54 (112):1-24 (2007)
Abstract
Philosophical and political discussions of health inequalities have largely focused on questions of justice. The general strategy employed by philosophers like Norman Daniels is to identify a certain state of affairs—in his case, equality of opportunity—and then argue that health disparities limiting an individual's or group's access to that condition are unjust, demanding intervention. Recent work in epidemiology, however, has highlighted the importance of socioeconomic status in creating health inequalities. I explore the ways in which theories of justice have been expanded in light of this data, suggesting that more work is required if such theories are to provide an adequate framework for addressing health disparities. I conclude by sketching an alternative possibility for thinking about health disparities outside of the context of justice.
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