Public Health Law,
Ethics, and Human Rights
Mapping the Issues
This Reader offers an organized selection of government reports, scholarly articles, and court cases on public health law, ethics, and human rights. The publication of a Reader on these subjects may suggest that a coherent, systematic understanding of the relationships between public health law, ethics, and human rights exists. Despite the deep traditions in these separate fields, they have rarely cross-fertilized. For the most part, each of these fields has adopted its own terminologies and forms of reasoning. To the extent that scholars in law, ethics, or human rights have engaged in sustained examinations of issues in health, they have written principally about medical care. This introductory chapter maps the important features of, and issues in, these respective fields as they pertain to the theory and practice of public health. Part One of the Reader explores public health, ethics, and human rights in more detail. Part Two examines major aspects of public health law, including constitutional, administrative, and tort law. Part Three focuses on some of the major controversies and trade-offs involved in public health theory and practice. And Part Four conceptualizes a vision for public health in a new century.
In thinking about the application of ethics or human rights to problems in public health, it is important first to understand what we mean by