Paternalism and Justice in Preventive Health Care

The phenomena are well-known: educated top earners are healthier than uneducated poor people – and that is not only due to their having easier access to health care. A healthy lifestyle contributes considerably to preventing disease outbreaks and increases life expectancy. How far can the state go to encourage a healthy lifestyle in citizens? Paternalism and justice in preventive health care are the central topics of experts` discussions at an international workshop at the Center for Interdisciplinary Research (ZiF) of Bielefeld University. It is the kick-off event to the new ZiF Research Group which investigates questions concerning a fair public health policy.

What are the limits of necessary and justifiable interventions and when starts patronising of citizens? What is the significance of freedom, solidarity and justice to the modern welfare state? These questions are dealt with at the workshop ‘Challenges for public health: Paternalism and health inequalities’ which is attended by medical practitioners and public health experts but also by jurists and philosophers, for a legal analysis of the results of public health research and their philosophical discussion does not yet exist in Germany. ‘We are glad that we were able to win researchers to participate in this workshop who know the health care systems in other countries practically just as well as that in Germany for in many countries the relevant discussion is much more advanced than here’, so the convenors of the workshop, the jurist Professor Dr. Stefan Huster (Ruhr-Universität Bochum) and the philosopher Professor Dr. Thomas Schramme (Universität Hamburg).

The workshop is the kick-off to the new ZiF Research Group ‘Normative aspects of public health’, also convened by Huster and Schramme, which starts its work in October and investigates at the ZiF during the next six months questions concerning a fair health policy. The convenors of the Research Group say that ‘With our project we are breaking new ground and hope to trigger an intensive discussion of this important subject’.

For further information in the Internet, go to:

Ulrike Scholderer, Bielefeld University
Center for Interdisciplinary Research
Telephone: +49 521 106-2776

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