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Responsibility in healthcare across time and agents
  1. Rebecca C H Brown1,
  2. Julian Savulescu2
  1. 1 Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  2. 2 Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rebecca C H Brown, Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, University of Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Oxford OX1 1PT, UK; rebecca.brown{at}philosophy.ox.ac.uk

Abstract

It is unclear whether someone’s responsibility for developing a disease or maintaining his or her health should affect what healthcare he or she receives. While this dispute continues, we suggest that, if responsibility is to play a role in healthcare, the concept must be rethought in order to reflect the sense in which many health-related behaviours occur repeatedly over time and are the product of more than one agent. Most philosophical accounts of responsibility are synchronic and individualistic; we indicate here what paying more attention to the diachronic and dyadic aspects of responsibility might involve and what implications this could have for assessments of responsibility for health-related behaviour.

  • public health ethics
  • health promotion
  • social aspects
  • philosophical ethics
  • ethics

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Unported (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to copy, redistribute, remix, transform and build upon this work for any purpose, provided the original work is properly cited, a link to the licence is given, and indication of whether changes were made. See: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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Footnotes

  • Contributors Both authors contributed substantially to the development and drafting of the manuscript.

  • Funding This work was supported by the Wellcome Trust (PI Savulescu WT104848/Z/14/Z and co-PI Savulescu WT203132/Z/16/Z).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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