Ethics, Prevention, and Public Health

Ethics, Prevention, and Public Health

Ethics, Prevention, and Public Health

Ethics, Prevention, and Public Health


Public health is an important and fast-developing areas of ethical discussion. In this volume a range of issues in public health ethics are explored using the resources of moral theory, political philosophy, philosphy of science, applied ethics, law, and economics.

The twelve original papers presented consider numerous ethical issues within public health ethics. To what extent can the public good or the public interests justify state interventions that impose limits upon the freedom of individuals? What role should the law play in regulating risks? Should governments actively aim to change our preferences about such things as food, smoking or physical exercise? What are public goods, and what role (if any) do they play in public health? To what extent do individuals have moral obligations to contribute to protecting the community or the public good? Where is it appropriate to concentrate upon prevention rather than cure? Given the fact that we cannot be protected from all harm, what sorts of harm provide a justification for public health action? What limits do we wish to place upon public health activities? How do we ensure that the interests of individuals are not set aside or forgotten in the pursuit of population benefits?


The origins of this volume lie in conversations following the 5th World Congress of the International Association of Bioethics (IAB) in London in September 2000. It was at that event that we met and discovered a mutual interest in the ethical issues relating to public health. This joint interest has strengthened over the years through many joint research and teaching projects. Over the last five years we have discovered many others who share this interest, and we are very pleased to see that public health ethics is increasingly recognised as an important and growing sub-discipline. A significant influence upon this development has been the organisation of events at subsequent IAB world congresses and the work of the International Public Health Ethics Network (InterPHEN), a network of the International Association of Bioethics (IAB). We are grateful to the present and past members of the Board of the IAB for their support.

Some of these papers originate from a research seminar on the theme of Public Health and Ethical Theory held in Bilthoven in the Netherlands in May 2002 (co-sponsored by the Netherlands School for Research in Practical Philosophy and the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research). Other papers are the result of later work from our friends and colleagues across the world. We are very grateful to all of the authors of the chapters in this collection for allowing us to publish their work and to join us in raising the profile of public health ethics.

Angus Dawson Marcel Verweij . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.