The significance of the concept of disease for justice in health care

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 28 (2):121-135 (2007)
Abstract
In this paper, I want to scrutinise the value of utilising the concept of disease for a theory of distributive justice in health care. Although many people believe that the presence of a disease-related condition is a prerequisite of a justified claim on health care resources, the impact of the philosophical debate on the concept of disease is still relatively minor. This is surprising, because how we conceive of disease determines the amount of justified claims on health care resources. Therefore, the severity of scarcity depends on our interpretation of the concept of disease. I want to defend a specific combination of a theory of disease with a theory of distributive justice. A naturalist account of disease, together with sufficientarianism, is able to perform a gate-keeping function regarding entitlements to medical treatment. Although this combination cannot solve all problems of justice in health care, it may inform rationing decisions as well.
Keywords disease  justice  rationing  egalitarianism  sufficientarianism  naturalism  normativism
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