Doing justice justice : distinguishing social justice from distributive justice and the implications for bioethics

Abstract

Justice is a key guiding ethical principle in bioethics. When justice is addressed in bioethics the focus is primarily on the fair distribution of resources, that is, distributive justice. In this thesis, I argue that a distributive conception of justice is unable to adequately address many of the relevant issues of justice within bioethics. These issues are better understood and addressed using a social conception of justice. Social justice is concerned with ensuring that the norms and rules of social structures are fair and equitable. I argue that social and distributive justice are not only compatible, but also complementary. As a result, both conceptions of justice need to be applied to bioethical issues if we are to achieve a truly just outcome. As a case study, I apply this analysis to the controversial issue of the inclusion of pregnant women in clinical research trial.

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