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Phase-dependent justification: the role of personal responsibility in fair healthcare


The main aim of this paper is to examine the fairness of different ways of holding people responsible for healthcare-related choices. Our focus is on conceptualisations of responsibility that involve blame and sanctions, and our analytical approach is to provide a systematic discussion based on interrelated and successive health-related, lifestyle choices of an individual. We assess the already established risk-sharing, backward-looking and forward-looking views on responsibility according to a variety of standard objections. In conclusion, all of the proposed views on holding people responsible for their lifestyle choices are subjected to reasonable critiques, although the risk-sharing view fare considerably better than the others overall considered. With our analytical approach, we are able to identify how basic conditions for responsibility ascription alter along a time axis. Repeated relapses with respect to healthcare associated with persistent, unhealthy lifestyle choices, call for distinct attention. In such situations, contextualised reasoning and transparent policy-making, rather than opaque clinical judgements, are required as steps towards fair allocation of healthcare resources.

  • Distributive Justice
  • Ethics
  • Political Philosophy
  • Public Policy

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