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Social Justice The Moral Foundations of Public Health and Health Policy by Madison Powers, Ruth R. Faden

Social Justice The Moral Foundations of Public Health and Health Policy


Part of the Issues in Biomedical Ethics Series


Social Justice The Moral Foundations of Public Health and Health Policy by Madison Powers, Ruth R. Faden

In bioethics, discussions of justice have tended to focus on questions of fairness in access to health care: is there a right to medical treatment, and how should priorities be set when medical resources are scarce. But health care is only one of many factors that determine the extent to which people live healthy lives, and fairness is not the only consideration in determining whether a health policy is just. In this pathbreaking book, senior bioethicists Powers and Faden confront foundational issues about health and justice. How much inequality in health can a just society tolerate. The audience for the book is scholars and students of bioethics and moral and political philosophy, as well as anyone interested in public health and health policy.


In this excellent book, Madison Powers and Ruth Faden set out to define the essential dimensions of well-being that should guide a theory of justice, and then to show how such a theory can be applied to important issues in public health and health policy. * Hastings Center Report * Social Justice is one of the most important books to come out in bioethics, and health policy ethics, in the last decade. It challenges us to think more broadly about what bioethics brings to the table when we evaluate health policies and public health practices. Its combination of rigor and clarity is uncommon. * Peter A. Ubel M.D., Director, Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine, Ann Arbor * Faden and Powers have produced a compelling and important argument regarding what social justice requires of states and the various social institutions they facilitate. One can only hope that their articulation of this very good constitutional idea - that as a very fundamental, constitutional matter states ought to promote social justice and that what that means is that states must provide for human well-being along those six crucial dimensions - will receive a wide readership, not only by public health professionals or the lay public, but also by constitutional lawyers and theorists. * Robin L. West, DePaul Journal of Health Care Law , Frederick J. Haas Chair in Law and Philosophy, Georgetown Law Center * Most moral theorists think about what principles of justice would govern an ideal world. Such ideal theories do not necessarily guide us well in our non-ideal world. Powers and Faden make a powerful case for moving from ideal to non-ideal theory, and ably show how to do it in the field of justice in health care. This book makes an important advance in making moral theory more empirically responsible. * Elizabeth Anderson, John Rawls Collegiate Professor of Philosophy and Women's Studies, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor * Powers and Faden have given us a powerful and lucid theory that gives us the tools to unify our work in such disparate areas as bioethics, public health, global justice, and human rights. All of us who work in this area are in their debt. * John D. Arras, Porterfield Professor of Biomedical Ethics, University of Virginia *

About the Author

Madison Powers is Director and Science Research Scholar, Kennedy Institute of Ethics, and Associate Professor of Philosophy, Georgetown University. Ruth Faden is Wagley Professor of Biomedical Ethics, and Director, Berman Bioethics Institute, Johns Hopkins University.

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Book Info

Publication date

25th September 2008


Madison Powers, Ruth R. Faden

More books by Madison Powers, Ruth R. Faden
Author 'Like for Like'


Oxford University Press Inc


248 pages


Ethics & moral philosophy
Medical ethics & professional conduct
Ethical issues & debates



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