Standard circumstances and vital goals: Comments on venkatapuram's critique

Bioethics 27 (5):280-284 (2013)

This article is a reply to Venkatapuram's critique in his article Health, Vital Goals, Capabilities, this volume. I take issue mainly with three critical points put forward by Venkatapuram with regard to my theory of health. (1) I deny that the contents of my vital goals are relative to each community or context, as Venkatapuram claims. There is no conceptual connection at all between standard circumstances and vital goals, as I understand these concepts. (2) Venkatapuram notes that I stop short of filling the framework of vital goals with any content and thereby make my concept of health less concrete. I reply that some vital goals are indeed universal, viz. the ones which are necessary conditions for survival. Many other vital goals are individual and cannot therefore be included in a universal list. (3) Venkatapuram claims that my definition of vital goals is too broad, since it entails that some persons without any disease can be regarded as ill. However, in my understanding health is a relational concept from a state of complete health to a state of maximal illness. In this framework, a minor reduction of a state of complete health does not entail illness. This article also contains a comparison between my theory of health and Martha Nussbaum's theory of capabilities for dignity
Keywords vital goals  capabilities  Health  Nussbaum  subjective preferences  standard circumstances
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DOI 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2011.01958.x
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