Contractualist age rationing under outbreak circumstances

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

Abstract

Age rationing is a central issue in the health care priority-setting literature, but it has become ever more salient in the light of the Covid-19 outbreak, where health authorities in several countries have given higher priority to younger over older patients. But how is age rationing different under outbreak circumstances than under normal circumstances, and what does this difference imply for ethical theories? This is the topic of this paper. The paper argues that outbreaks such as that of Covid-19 involve special circumstances that change how age should influence our prioritization decisions, and that while this shift in circumstances poses a problem for consequentialist views such as utilitarianism and age-weighted consequentialism, contractualism is better equipped to cope with it. The paper then offers a contractualist prudential account of age rationing under outbreak circumstances.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBioethics
ISSN0269-9702
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2020

Keywords

  • Covid-19
  • age rationing
  • consequentialism
  • contractualism
  • outbreak
  • prudential life-span account

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