SOSA – October 31 Morality & Health
**candies from Brendan!!!!**
Healthy, Normal, Good
Biomedical model – health as normality, set of assumptions medicine
thinks about disease and patients and so on.
“Health is defined by what is normal” Normal in quantitative sense =
Average/usual in human beings. Qualitative= what‟s good, function,
o Qualitative and quantitative
Being healthy = conforming to some standard of what is normal. What
normal people do. Being healthy means in a sense being good,
conforming to standard of normal non-deviant people. Norms of health are
form of social control.
A lot of connections in culture between morality and health
•“...if you are not like everybody else, then you are abnormal; if you are
abnormal, then you are sick. These three categories, not being like everybody
else, not being normal and being sick are in fact very different but have been
reduced to the same thing”
Prominent social theorists
Died in 80s
Links between healthy, normal and good and how these links are made
Modern power works through self-discipline „technologies of the self‟
Panopticon: in images on screen
o Design for prison, central tower w/ guards, inmates around.
o Never know when the guards are watching, self-police behaviours.
o Contemporary societies police themselves afraid of judgment.
Public execution to panopticon, subtle form of power.
o How disciplines such as medicine come to discipline us.
o Expert knowledge way to discipline us into becoming healthy
Moral regulation: efforts to change conduct and ethical subjectivity of
Responsibilisation: process of making people responsible
Concepts from Foucault and leading on from Foucault
Regulations are efforts to change how you behave and how you think
of your behaviour as ethical or unethical.
To do good and to do as we‟re told to be governable. Get us to do
what we are told by telling us it is the right thing to do. o EX. Mother‟s Against Drunk Driving: urges us to become
responsible for drinking/driving whether we are drinking or not.
Responsibility placed on us.
Responsiblization: if made responsible you can be blamed for it, made
responsible in sense you are made to act in a responsible way.
Often links between responsible and citizenship. About everyone else,
responsibility to other people not just yourself.
A lot of moral regulations and responsiblisation in the health area.
Moralization of health increases all the time.
Great emphasis on production of knowledge about risk factors of
Links between lifestyle/behaviour and disease.
Create new opportunities/responsibilities/moral expectations about
health and disease.
Responsibilized not to smoke, not to get fat, to exercise etc. If we
reject this you get stigmatized. Connected to view about normalcy and
normal behaviour. Deviant, doing something wrong.
Research on the health-morality link
Cross-cultural Studies: Moral explanation most common for disease. If you
violate moral principle you will get sick.
Studies on Children: Western children use moral explanation to explain illness
as a form of justice. Accident/cold due to careless or faulty behaviour.
US Christian Fundamentalism: Some arguments from Christian
fundamentalists that illnesses are a form of moral retribution: gay people getting
AIDS. God‟s punishment for sexual perversion.
College Student Food and Morality Study
College students in US: students rated personality and character traits of 2
college students and vinents used to rate them. Told about their food
choices. Everything else was rated the same. Healthier food choices
student was rated as being more virtuous, ethical and considerate than
the other student. Everything else was the same except for the food
Dress up these things as facts: smoking can adversely affect your health, to take
next step to say smoking is irresponsible or immoral is a value statement/moral
judgment, not a fact. Doing something bad for health carries implication of
irresponsibility. Supposed to do things that protect our helaht and health of
others, if we don‟t we are immoral. Factors that Contribute to the Moralization of Health
1. The Rise of Secular Morality
Parallels with religious morality
Sin, punishment, suffering, redemption
Prescriptions and proscriptions
Traditional source of morality is religion.
Increasing pluralistic society,
Increasingly secular in some aspects.
Secular morality: idea of lowest common denominator morality.
Secular morality based on similar principles as traditional
Our commandments of Health:
Thou shalt… Thou shalt not…
Eat healthy Smoke
nutritious foods. 4
Exercise, 8 glasses Do drugs
of water a day
Practise safe sex,
No other gods
Wash your hands
7-8 hours of sleep
Based on specific moral
Emphasis on sin, punishing, redemption etc. to healthy living
too much cheesecake = weight gain, only redeemed by pain of exercise
and self denial in dieting. Sin, virtue, food, health, morality etc. (pregnant