Philosophy Colloquium
Kelsey Gipe
University of Maryland
Health Outcomes and Priority: Separate Spheres

Outcomes matter when it comes to distributing medical resources. However, it can be difficult to determine what sort of factors ought properly to be taken into account when characterizing such outcomes. If all we care about is maximizing well-being, then it seems that we should take all of the impacts of a proposed distribution into account. This would commit us to, e.g., prioritizing a successful individual with a loving family and many friends over an unemployed loner in a case where both are candidates for receiving a lifesaving organ transplant. But it seems somehow unfair that someone's social utility (or lack thereof) should determine whether that individual is given the chance to receive a lifesaving medical resource. Although distributing medical goods on the basis of such a straightforward social utility calculation seems clearly mistaken, it is a challenge to delineate what exactly ought to be taken into account in such cases. Does fairness require that we rule out certain considerations from our deliberation, and if so, which? Should only the health-related benefits of a given distribution be taken into account, or should we consider certain social benefits as well? An appeal to separate spheres can help answer these questions. Drawing on the work of Dan Brock and Frances Kamm, I aim to sketch out and motivate how outcomes ought to be characterized in the sphere of medicine as well as what type of distribution priority considerations ought properly to fall within that sphere.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015
3:30pm - 5:30pm

Skinner 1115