Volume 27, 2011
Poverty, Justice, and Markets
Does the Human Right to Health Lack Content?
The human right to health is crucial in the fight against global poverty. Health and an adequate standard of living are intimately connected. Poor health can make it difficult to overcome poverty, and poverty can make it difficult to attain good health. For the human right to health to be effective, however, it must have sufficient content to do the important normative work of rights. In the first part of this paper I give plausible arguments against the very existence of a human right to health based on its lack of content and extend this to other social rights such as the right to adequate income, housing and education. In the second part of the paper I provide a defense of human social rights, including the human right to health, by arguing that these human rights, though abstract, have enough content to function as rights.