This paper suggests that public health, due to its community orientation, may be ignoring certain ethical principles--namely the rights of individuals and communities to self-determination. The expectation of individual rights as a member of a community is reviewed and the additional right of a community for self-determination is proposed. The influences on ethical evaluations by the legal and economic environments are suggested, using US examples. The conclusion argues that as the focus of health-care delivery changes, it will become more important to consider these questions of group ethics.
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