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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 45, Issue 3, July 2019

Johannes Kniess
Pages 397-425

Justice in the Social Distribution of Health

How should we think, from the point of view of distributive justice, about inequalities in health and longevity? Norman Daniels’s influential account derives a social duty to reduce health inequalities from Rawls’s principle of fair equality of opportunity. This paper criticises Daniels’s approach and offers an alternative. To the extent that the basic structure of society shapes people’s opportunities to be healthy, we ought to think of ‘the social bases of health’ directly as a Rawlsian primary social good. The paper attempts to clarify the correct principle for its distribution, and its relationship to other goods that give rise to considerations of justice.

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