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One health ethics: a response to pragmatism
  1. Zohar Lederman1,
  2. Benjamin Capps2
  1. 1 Centre for Medical Ethics and Law, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  2. 2 Department of Bioethics, Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
  1. Correspondence to Dr Zohar Lederman, Centre for Medical Ethics and Law, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong 129790, Hong Kong; zoharlederman{at}


Johnson and Degeling have recently enquired whether one health (OH) requires a comprehensive normative framework, concluding that such a framework, while not necessary, may be helpful. In this commentary, we provide a context for this debate, and describe how pragmatism has been predominant in the OH literature. We nevertheless argue that articulating a comprehensive normative theory to ground OH practice might clear existing vagueness and provide stronger guidance in relevant health dilemmas. A comprehensive theory will also be needed eventually to ground notions such as universal good. We, thus, call for the systematic articulation of a comprehensive, metaethical theory, concomitantly with already ongoing normative work.

  • environmental ethics
  • philosophical ethics
  • public health ethics

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  • Contributors ZL has produced the first draft of the manuscript. Both authors have contributed equally to revisions.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

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