What is so important about completing lives? A critique of the modified youngest first principle of scarce resource allocation

Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 37 (2):113-128 (2016)
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Ruth Tallman has recently offered a defense of the modified youngest first principle of scarce resource allocation [1]. According to Tallman, this principle calls for prioritizing adolescents and young adults between 15–40 years of age. In this article, I argue that Tallman’s defense of the modified youngest first principle is vulnerable to important objections, and that it is thus unsuitable as a basis for allocating resources. Moreover, Tallman makes claims about the badness of death for individuals at different ages, but she lacks an account of the loss involved in dying to support her claims. To fill this gap in Tallman’s account, I propose a view on the badness of death that I call ‘Deprivationism’. I argue that this view explains why death is bad for those who die, and that it has some advantages over Tallman’s complete lives view in the context of scarce resource allocation. Finally, I consider some objections to the relevance of Deprivationism to resource allocation, and offer my responses.



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Espen Gamlund
University of Bergen

References found in this work

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press.
Reasons and Persons.Joseph Margolis - 1986 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 47 (2):311-327.
Just Health: Meeting Health Needs Fairly.Norman Daniels - 2007 - Cambridge University Press.
Just Health Care.Norman Daniels - 1985 - New York: Cambridge University Press.

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