Public Health - ethical issues

image of Public Health - ethical issues

The Nordic Committee on Bioethics organised a conference in Reykjavik in August 2010 to discuss ethical issues relating to public health. The speakers of the conference have contributed to this book, which offers wide multidisciplinary perspectives on themes around Individual Freedom and Public Health, Health Responsibility and Life Style, and Social Equality and Justice.



Is There a Right to Live an Unhealthy Life?

Is there a right to live an unhealthy life? This core question is addressed through a series of controversial questions: If there is a right to live an unhealthy life, what kind of right is this? Can an autonomous person choose to live an unhealthy life? Is a choice to live an unhealthy life an autonomous choice? Do we have a duty or a responsibility to live healthy life? Does health neglect or own responsibility for poor health have consequences for access to health care and health care prioritization? How to justify public health interventions in order to make people live healthier lives? What is “health” and “unhealthy” in a right to lead an unhealthy life? By addressing these questions I will highlight that they have many answers, resulting in different responses to the question of whether there is a right to lead an unhealthy life. Which of the answers one prefers, strongly depends on perspectives and theoretical viewpoints, which are discussed in the paper. Acknowledging the strengths and weaknesses in the answers and their justifications is important for framing and implementing policies in public health.


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