Bioethicists are increasingly commenting on health care resource allocation, and sometimes suggest ways to solve various rationing dilemmas ethically. I argue that both because of the assumptions bioethicists make about social reality, and because of the methods of argument they use, they cannot possibly make a useful contribution to the debate. Bioethicists who want to make a practical difference should either approach health care resource allocation as if the matter hinged upon tribal competition (which is essentially what it does), or they should do political philosophy in the traditional sense, and examine the health system from the outside.
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