Spring 2020

Seminar: Just Human Health

Listed in: Philosophy, as PHIL-459


Jyl Gentzler (Section 01)


The concept of justice, according to American political philosopher John Rawls, concerns the proper principles for determining who has what rights and what duties with respect to the distribution of “social advantages"—that is, those good things that society has the ability, if it were so inclined, either to grant to or withhold from its members. This seminar is an investigation and evaluation of different conceptions of justice through the lens of human health. Health is an illuminating lens for this inquiry, because nearly everyone agrees that health is a good in itself and is also a precondition for enjoying many other human goods. For this reason, nearly everyone agrees that a just society will prevent its members from harming the health of one another. However, as we now know, whether any individual is healthy is due to many and varied factors, some within and some beyond their own individual control, including access to health care, healthy food, education, loving and respectful relationships, and meaningful work. In a democracy, our collective choices about how to structure our society disadvantage some and advantage others with regard to all of these goods. What do these facts about human health imply about our obligations to, and claims on, others? To what extent does a just society protect, repair, and enhance the health of its current and future members, and at what cost?

Requisite: Two courses in philosophy or the consent of the instructor. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Gentzler.

If Overenrolled: Priority will be given to majors, seniors, then juniors, etc.


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Spring 2022