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On Engster's care-justification of the specialness thesis about healthcare
  1. Benedict Rumbold
  1. Correspondence to Dr Benedict Rumbold, Department of Philosophy, University College London, Gower Street, WC1E 6BT, UK; b.rumbold{at}


To say health is ‘special’ is to say that it has a moral significance that differentiates it from other goods (cars, say or radios) and, as a matter of justice, warrants distributing it separately. In this essay, I critique a new justification for the specialness thesis about healthcare (STHC) recently put forth by Engster. I argue that, regrettably, Engster's justification of STHC ultimately fails and fails on much the same grounds as have previous justifications of STHC. However, I also argue that Engster's argument still adds something valuable to the debate around STHC insofar as it reminds us that the moral significance of healthcare may be wider than simply its effect on the incidence of disability and disease: one further reason we may think healthcare is morally significant is because it concerns the treatment and care of those who are already unwell.

  • Health Care Economics
  • Philosophical Ethics
  • Philosophy of Medicine
  • Political Philosophy

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