UNESCO, "Universal Bioethics," and State Regulation of Health Risks: A Philosophical Critique

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 34 (3):274-295 (2009)

Abstract
The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) Universal Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights announces a significant array of welfare entitlements—to personal health and health care, medicine, nutrition, water, improved living conditions, environmental protection, and so forth—as well as corresponding governmental duties to provide for such public health measures, though the simple expedient of announcing that such entitlements are “basic human rights.” The Universal Declaration provides no argument for the legitimacy of the sweeping governmental authority, taxation, and regulation to create and impose such “rights.” As this paper explores that some action promotes a purported good, such as “health,” does not thereby make the action morally permissible. Just as there are moral limits on legitimate personal actions, there are also moral limits on legitimate governmental actions to promote purported goods, including health. A core question of any governmental regulation, therefore, is whether it is a legitimate application of moral political authority or an unauthorized act of state coercion. Pace UNESCO's wide-ranging assertions, this paper argues that promoting health only falls within the legitimate authority of governments in very narrowly defined circumstances. As the paper critically explores, at stake are foundational moral and political questions concerning the limits of governmental authority to intervene in the consensual interaction of persons. Imposing such duties on others, including citizens of a state through regulatory activity and taxation, must be justified, nonarbitrary, and demonstrably within the limits of moral political authority. UNESCO's assertions do not meet this burden of proof
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DOI 10.1093/jmp/jhp020
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Informed Consent in Texas: Theory and Practice.Mark J. Cherry & H. Tristram Engelhardt - 2004 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 29 (2):237 – 252.

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Citations of this work BETA

The UNESCO Declaration on Bioethics and Human Rights: A Canon for the Ages?G. Trotter - 2009 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 34 (3):195-203.
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