Public Health And Civil Liberties

Resolving Conflicts

Authored by: James F. Childress

The Routledge Companion to Bioethics

Print publication date:  December  2014
Online publication date:  December  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415896665
eBook ISBN: 9780203804971
Adobe ISBN: 9781136644849


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This chapter considers public health ethics in a particular context—a liberal, pluralistic, democratic society that maintains explicit commitments to several basic civil liberties: Bodily integrity, privacy, freedom of movement, freedom of association, and freedom of religion and conscience (Gostin 2008). In addition to functioning as sociocultural norms, these liberties are embedded in legal and, in some cases, constitutional rights. They are also incorporated into international human rights documents and discourse. Beyond these civil liberties, there are several basic economic liberties, including freedom of contract and uses of property, which this chapter does not address. Nor is this the place to offer a theoretical defense of a liberal, pluralistic, democratic society; I assume this as the context for these reflections about public health ethics.

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