Philosophy | Problems in social & political philosophy
P345 | 11169 | Shapshay
Note: This is a COAS intensive writing section
Topic: Justice and Health Care
Most people agree that the health care system in the U.S. is in
crisis: The costs of health care are rising sharply and lots of
citizens lack health insurance (44 million Americans, among whom
number approximately 9 million children). Is it just that health
care is largely distributed in the U.S. by ability to pay?
For those Americans who do have good health insurance, if they
discover a tumor, they can have it removed rather promptly. In
Canada, everyone has health insurance, but you might have to wait a
month to have your tumor removed. Is unequal access to healthcare
the price we ought to pay in order to assure that some of us have a
high quality of healthcare? Or is healthcare something so vital to
human well-being that we ought to make sure everyone has access to
This course will examine several theories of justice (Rawlsian,
libertarian, communitarian and feminist) and their implications in
debates on the following topics: Is there a moral right to health
care? What sort of healthcare system (the Canadian single-payer
health insurance system, the U.S. more market-based system, the
Public Health Service of England, etc.) is a just one?
The authors we will read in the course are fairly contemporary: John
Rawls, Robert Nozick, Michael Sandel, Susan Moller Okin, Norman
Daniels, Milton Fisk, Ruth Faden, and Allen Buchanan, among others.
The moral/political philosophical issues involved are some of the
most pressing in the U.S. today. In this class, we will get past
election campaign sound-bites and delve deeply into empirically-
supported, sustained and careful argument about just healthcare.