Ethics of the Social Determinants of Health
The Lancet, Vol. 364, pp. 1092-1097, 2004
6 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2006
Research over several decades has identified social inequalities in health, both between and within countries. This research has prompted some countries to pursue strategies to reduce socioeconomic inequalities in health. Such efforts have fuelled a debate that centres on the tension between the need to account for the impact of health determinants outside the health-care system (social determinants of health) and the need to balance health as an objective with other valuable social ends (in other policy domains). Alongside this practical debate exists a parallel debate at the philosophical level. The implications of theories of justice for social determinants of health has thus become an important topic of philosophical inquiry. This Article focuses specifically on the application of John Rawls' theory of justice to the social determinants of health and then proposes an alternative philosophical framework, that builds on and integrates Amartya Sen's capability approach and Aristotle's political theory, for thinking about such inequalities.
Keywords: Sen, social determinants, ethics
JEL Classification: I10
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