BMC Medical Ethics 17 (1):1-9 (2016)

Authors
Espen Gamlund
University of Bergen
Abstract
BackgroundThe state of the world is one with scarce medical resources where longevity is not equally distributed. Given such facts, setting priorities in health entails making difficult yet unavoidable decisions about which lives to save. The business of saving lives works on the assumption that longevity is valuable and that an early death is worse than a late death. There is a vast literature on health priorities and badness of death, separately. Surprisingly, there has been little cross-fertilisation between the academic fields of priority setting and badness of death. Our aim is to connect philosophical discussions on the badness of death to contemporary debates in health priorities.DiscussionTwo questions regarding death are especially relevant to health priorities. The first question is why death is bad. Death is clearly bad for others, such as family, friends and society. Many philosophers also argue that death can be bad for those who die. This distinction is important for health priorities, because it concerns our fundamental reasons for saving lives. The second question is, ‘When is the worst time to die?’ A premature death is commonly considered worse than a late death. Thus, the number of good life years lost seems to matter to the badness of death. Concerning young individuals, some think the death of infants is worse than the death of adolescents, while others have contrary intuitions. Our claim is that to prioritise between age groups, we must consider the question of when it is worst to die.ConclusionsDeprivationism provides a more plausible approach to health priorities than Epicureanism. If Deprivationism is accepted, we will have a firmer basis for claiming that individuals, in addition to having a health loss caused by morbidity, will have a loss of good life years due to mortality. Additionally, Deprivationism highlights the importance of age and values for health priorities. Regarding age, both variants of Deprivationism imply that stillbirths are included in the Global Burden of Disease. Finally, we suggest that the Time-Relative Interest Account may serve as an alternative to the discounting and age weighting previously applied in the Global Burden of Disease.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
ISBN(s)
DOI 10.1186/s12910-016-0104-6
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: 69,018
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Reasons and Persons.Derek Parfit - 1984 - Oxford University Press.
Just Health: Meeting Health Needs Fairly.Norman Daniels - 2007 - Cambridge University Press.
The Ethics of Killing: Problems at the Margins of Life.Frances Kamm - 2007 - Philosophical Review 116 (2):273-280.

View all 17 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

View all 12 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Less Good but Not Bad: In Defense of Epicureanism About Death.Aaron Smuts - 2012 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 93 (2):197-227.
Death.Shelly Kagan - 2012 - Yale University Press.
The Worst Time to Die.Ben Bradley - 2008 - Ethics 118 (2):291-314.
Unscrambling of Life and Death of Confucius.Zhongqi Yang - 2008 - Philosophy and Culture 35 (3):167-179.
Reflections on Society, Medicine and Death.Anne Moates - 2006 - Chisholm Health Ethics Bulletin 12 (2):9.
The Time of Death's Badness.J. Johansson - 2012 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 37 (5):464-479.
Death: 'Nothing' Gives Insight.Eric J. Ettema - 2013 - Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 16 (3):575-585.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2016-04-14

Total views
29 ( #391,846 of 2,498,526 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #426,098 of 2,498,526 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes