A broader view of justice

American Journal of Bioethics 8 (10):2 – 10 (2008)
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Abstract

In this paper I argue that a narrow view of justice dominates the bioethics literature. I urge a broader view. As bioethicists, we often conceive of justice using a medical model. This model focuses attention at a particular point in time, namely, when someone who is already sick seeks access to scarce or expensive services. A medical model asks how we can fairly distribute those services. The broader view I endorse requires looking upstream, and asking how disease and suffering came about. In contrast to a medical model, a social model of justice considers how social determinants affect the health of a population. For example, social factors such as access to clean drinking water, education, safe workplaces, and police protection, profoundly affect risk for disease and early death. I examine one important social determinant of health, health care coverage, to show the limits of a medical model and the merits of a broader view.

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Author's Profile

Nancy Jecker
University of Washington