Public Health Ethics

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  • Publish Date: 2007-09-17
  • Binding: Paperback
  • Author: Stephen Holland

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How far should we go in protecting and promoting public health? Can we force people to give up unhealthy habits and make healthier choices, or does everyone have the right to decide their own lifestyle? Should we stop treating smokers who refuse to give up smoking? Should we put a tax on fatty foods and ban vending machines in schools to address the obesity epidemic? Should parents be required to have their children vaccinated? Are some of our screening programmes unethical Downs syndrome screening, for example or should we be screening people for more conditions, such as Huntington disease?

Such questions are at the heart of public health ethics. Holland shows that to understand and debate these issues requires philosophy: moral philosophies, such as utilitarianism and deontology, as well as political philosophies such as liberalism and communitarianism. And philosophy informs other aspects of public health, such as epidemiology and health promotion.


The aim of this book is to provide a lively, accessible and philosophically informed introduction to such issues. It is an ideal textbook for students taking courses in public health ethics. And since this book develops systematic discussions of issues in public health ethics, there is also much here to engage and challenge the more advanced reader.

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