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Rights and Good: Ethical Research on Public Health

Author: ShiJun
Tutor: XiaoWei
School: Tsinghua University
Course: Ethics
Keywords: public health rights and good ethical principles
CLC: R-052
Type: PhD thesis
Year: 2007
Downloads: 746
Quote: 2
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Abstract


Public health is coming to become the focus of the public’s attention at the beginning of 21st century and the ethical research of public health flourished at that time. The theme of public health ethics is the relationship between“rights and good”, and I did the ethical research on public health closely around the theme in this dissertation. Firstly, I analyze how the viewpoint of“rights prior to good”and“good prior to rights”would treat public health respectively. Secondly, I provide ethical principles to reconcile the conflicts between rights and good. Thirdly, I discuss the way of reconciling their conflicts. Lastly, I point out the ethical illumination of this research to public health practice in China.From the standpoint of individual rights, every public health intervene that violate individual rights would be of no effect, therefore, the best way of achieving public health is protecting individual rights. Furthermore, individual has the rights to ask for fair and equal health because health is one of his positive rights. Rawls’theory of justice is helpful of achieving fair and equal health. We can expand Rawls’theory of justice to explain the moral importance of avoiding health inequity through“the principle of fair and equal opportunity”. At the same time,“the principle of difference”can fully explain the permitted health inequity. From the standpoint of common good, individual rights can be restricted for the purpose of public health. The liberal principle of“no harm to others”, the paternalistic principle of“no harm to self”and the communitarian principle of“no harm to community”can all provide demonstration and justification to public health intervention from different degree.After much calculation on individual rights and common good, I tentatively advance six ethical principles to reconcile their conflicts. These principles are as follows: the principle of whole utility, the principle of least infringement, the principle of compensational justice, the principle of public notification, the principle of community participation and the principle of tolerance and care. The relationship between these principles is compensatory, i.e. one principle is to rectify the others’deficiency. The conflicts between individual rights and common good can be reconciled by the language of“duty”based on adjusting the relationship between individual and society. The relationship between individual and society is not only opposite but also unanimous; therefore, they depend upon each other. It is necessary for individual taking his social obligation of maintaining and proving public health if one wants to insure his rights. Society also has to take its obligation of protecting individual rights through establishing social justice which provide individual social conditions of maintaining health. On practical level, the ethical research of public health from the viewpoint of“rights and good”can provide valuable ethical suggestions to Chinese public health practice from the following aspects: legal, institutional and cultural construction.

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CLC: > Medicine, health > General theory of > The relationship between medicine and other disciplines > Medical Ethics
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