Public health, human rights, and philosophy

Authored by: Kristen Hessler

The Routledge Handbook of Philosophy of Public Health

Print publication date:  October  2022
Online publication date:  October  2022

Print ISBN: 9781138938823
eBook ISBN: 9781315675411
Adobe ISBN:


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In 1994, the inaugural issue of the journal Health and Human Rights introduced a broad, hopeful vision of collaboration between the fields of public health and human rights. A pioneering interdisciplinary group of scholars argued in that issue that the goals of public health and human rights were deeply aligned and advocated a partnership between the two fields to advance their shared agenda. This chapter explicates the case for a human rights approach to public health in more detail, highlighting the fact that it depends on a progressive, nontraditional vision of both fields. The second half of the chapter argues for a greater role for philosophy in collaborative, interdisciplinary health, and human rights scholarship. Just as the vision of health and human rights depends on nontraditional, expansive conceptions of both fields, philosophy has been undergoing a similar expansion, which has placed it in a particularly fruitful place to contribute to collaborative interdisciplinary scholarship that illuminates the moral basis of health and human rights.

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