Ethical Responsibility for the Social Production of Tuberculosis

Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 13 (1):57-64 (2016)

Approximately one in two hundred persons in the Marshall Islands have active tuberculosis. We examine the historical antecedents of this situation in order to assign ethical responsibility for the present situation. Examining the antecedents in terms of Galtung’s dialectic of personal versus structural violence, we can identify instances in the history of the Marshall Islands when individual subjects made decisions with large-scale ecologic, social, and health consequences. The roles of medical experimenters, military commanders, captains of the weapons industry in particular, and industrial capitalism in general are examined. In that, together with Lewontin, we also identify industrial capitalism as the cause of tuberculosis, we note that the distinction between personal versus structural violence is difficult to maintain. By identifying the cause of the tuberculosis in the Marshall Islands, we also identify what needs be done to treat and prevent it.
Keywords Tuberculosis  Marshall Islands  Pacific Islands  Social determinants of health  Climate change  Nuclear testing  Militarism
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DOI 10.1007/s11673-015-9681-1
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