A dialectic of cooperation and competition: Solidarity and universal health care provision

Bioethics 26 (7):351-360 (2012)
The concept of solidarity has achieved relatively little attention from philosophers, in spite of its signal importance in a variety of social movements over the past 150 years. This means that there is a certain amount of preliminary philosophical work concerning the concept itself that must be undertaken before one can ask about its potential use in arguments concerning the provision of health care. In this paper, I begin with this work through a survey of some of the most prominent bioethical, political philosophical and intellectual historical literature concerned with the project of determining a philosophically specific and historically perspicacious meaning of the term ‘solidarity’. This provides a conceptual foundation for a sketch of a four-tiered picture of social competition and cooperation within the nation-state. Corresponding to this picture is a four-tiered account of health care provision. These two models, taken together, provide a framework for articulating the conclusion that, while there are myriad examples of solidarity in claiming health care for some, or even many, the concept does not provide a basis for claiming health care for all
Keywords competition  health care provision  social contract  cooperation  solidarity
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2012.01990.x
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