Ageism Without Anticipation-Blindness

Public Health Ethics 16 (3):271-279 (2023)
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Ageism is the view that it is of greater moral value to allocate health care resources to younger people than to older people. In medical ethics, it is well-known that standard interpretations of distributive principles such as utilitarianism and egalitarianism imply some form of ageism. At times, ethicists argue as if practical complications are the only or main reason for not abiding to ageism. In this article, we argue that inferences to ageism from such distributive principles tend to commit what we call the anticipation-blindness fallacy: A much too narrow focus on life quality benefits of health care treatments inclines us to overlook the importance of life quality benefits of health care safety, that is the mere trust in and expectation of being treated and cared for as one grows old. This is a key omission because health safety has value for a much larger population and for much longer time. Taking health safety into account therefore has important implications as for how ageist we ought to be.



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Lasse B. N. B.N. Nielsen
Palacky University

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Health as a theoretical concept.Christopher Boorse - 1977 - Philosophy of Science 44 (4):542-573.
Equality as a moral ideal.Harry Frankfurt - 1987 - Ethics 98 (1):21-43.
Equality, priority, and compassion.Roger Crisp - 2003 - Ethics 113 (4):745-763.
Sufficientarianism.Liam Shields - 2020 - Philosophy Compass 15 (11):1-10.

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