Nursing Philosophy 13 (3):161-178 (2012)

Abstract
The concept of responsibility for health is a significant feature of health discourse and public health policy, but application of the concept is poorly understood. This paper offers an analysis of the concept in two ways. Following an examination of the use of the word ‘responsibility’ in the nursing and wider health literature using three examples, the concept of ‘responsibility for health’ as fulfilling a social function is discussed with reference to policy documents from the UK. The philosophical literature on moral responsibility is introduced, and in considering two versions, reactive attitudes and accountability, it is argued that in application both can be regarded, though with different emphasis, as being constituted in three parts: a responsible agent; having obligations ; and being susceptible to being held responsible if he fails to meet them. The three‐stage model is consistent with the examples of the word responsibility in use, but application to the social function model causes a number of problems for healthcare practice, especially for the reactive attitudes account. Apart from considerable problems in stating what exactly the obligations are and how they can be justified; and how blame might justly be apportioned and by whom, the very ideas of obligation and blame are in conflict within healthcare systems and professional nursing practice which have foundations deeply embedded in the notion of the supremacy of personal autonomy. It is concluded that current application of the concept of responsibility for health is conceptually incoherent, and if it is to retain its place in health policy and discourse, urgent remedy is required.
Keywords responsibility for health  professional ethics  blame  obligation  agency
Categories (categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1111/j.1466-769X.2011.00531.x
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 72,541
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Freedom and Resentment.Peter Strawson - 1962 - Proceedings of the British Academy 48:187-211.
Health as a Theoretical Concept.Christopher Boorse - 1977 - Philosophy of Science 44 (4):542-573.
The Theory and Practice of Autonomy.Gerald Dworkin - 1988 - Cambridge University Press.

View all 59 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Challenging the Moral Status of Blood Donation.Paul C. Snelling - 2014 - Health Care Analysis 22 (4):340-365.

View all 7 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Collective Responsibility in Health Care.Lisa H. Newton - 1982 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 7 (1):11-22.
Editorial for the Thematic Section “Social Responsibility and Health”.Stefano Semplici - 2011 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 14 (4):353-354.
Health Care Responsibility.Andre Vries - 1980 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 1 (1):95-106.
Collective Responsibility in Health Care.R. S. Downie - 1982 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 7 (1):43-56.
The Importance of 'Social Responsibility' in the Promotion of Health.Stefano Semplici - 2011 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 14 (4):355-363.
Corporate Moral Responsibility in Health Care.Stephen Wilmot - 2000 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 3 (2):139-146.
The Right Perspective on Responsibility for Ill Health.Karl Persson - 2013 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 16 (3):429-441.
Health Maintenance as Responsibility for Self.Katharine KolcabaRaymond Kolcaba - 1994 - Philosophy in the Contemporary World 1 (2):19-24.
The Role of Solidarity in Social Responsibility for Health.Massimo Reichlin - 2011 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 14 (4):365-370.
Responsibility for Personal Health: A Historical Perspective.Stanley J. Reiser - 1985 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 10 (1):7-18.
Responsibility for Health and Blaming Victims.Mike W. Martin - 2001 - Journal of Medical Humanities 22 (2):95-114.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2012-06-07

Total views
35 ( #329,436 of 2,533,475 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #261,612 of 2,533,475 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes