Health and human rights: epistemological status and perspectives of development

Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 14 (3):237-247 (2011)
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Abstract

The health and human rights movement (HHR) shows obvious signs of maturation both internally and externally. Yet there are still many questions to be addressed. These issues include the movement’s epistemological status and its perspectives of development. This paper discusses critically the conditions of emergence of HHR, its identity, its dominant schools of thought, its epistemological postures and its methodological issues. Our analysis shows that: (a) the epistemological status of HHR is ambiguous; (b) its identity is uncertain in the absence of a validated definition: is it an action movement, an interdisciplinary field, a domain, an approach, a setting or a scientific discipline? (c) its main schools of thoughts are defined as “advocacists”, “ethicists”, “interventionists”, “normativists”; (d) the movement is in the maturation process as a discipline in which “interface”, “distance”, “interference” and “fusion” epistemological postures represent the fundamental steps; (e) parent disciplines (health sciences and law) competences, logics and cultures introduce duality and difficulties in knowledge production, validation and diffusion; (f) there is need to re-write the history of the HHR movement by inscribing it not only into the humanitarian or public health perspectives but also into the evolution of sciences and its social, political and economical conditions of emergence. The ambiguous epistemological status of this field, the need to re-write its history, the methodological duality in its research, the question of the competence of the knowledge validation, as well as the impact of HHR practice on national and international health governance are the challenges of its future development. To meet those challenges; we call for the creation and implementation of an international research agenda, the exploration of new research topics and the evaluation of the movement’s contribution to the national and global public health and human rights governance.

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References found in this work

Elements of a theory of human rights.S. E. N. Amartya - 2004 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 32 (4):315–356.
Human rights and capabilities.Amartya Sen - 2009 - In Mark Goodale (ed.), Human rights: an anthropological reader. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.
Elements of a Theory of Human Rights.Amartya Sen - 2004 - Philosophy and Public Affairs 32 (4):315-356.
Bioethics as a second-order discipline: Who is not a bioethicist?Loretta Kopelman - 2006 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 31 (6):601 – 628.

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