February 3, 2014
Wolff “The Human Right to Health”
• In the mainstream political philosophy, the health agenda is relatively undeveloped,
focusing on only a small number of issues.
o Redistributive transfers
o Brain drain
o Access to medicine and drug discovery
• We must seek imaginative ways of improving financial flows, changing drug discovery,
migration incentives, and funding health interventions.
• Political philosophy must be brought into contact with the concerns of development and
• Why should peoples of the developed world pay attention to the problems of the
developing world? Is it our business?
o Humanitarian duty of assistance
Peter Singer; if we can claim a life without sacrificing anything, we have
an obligation to do so.
o Individualised self-interest
Ie. Perhaps the best way to combat global pandemics is to strength public
health in the developing world.
o The right of others to have assistance (Justice argument)
The impact of colonialism ie. Drain on capital
Unfair contemporary trade policy
o Who has the duty to act?
Cosmopolitan Justice: everyone has the duty to act
Reparative Justice: those who have caused, or have benefitted from,
previous acts of injustice
• Those who oppose;
o Say the notion of human rights is “confused, useless, and damaging”
Some rights undermine others • Ie. The right for people to spend their wealth the way they choose
to; rich people will spend on the private sector, causing the poor
and middle class to be in a state of political and economic neglect.
o Individualistic notion of human rights might be damaging to the global health.
Brings issues in the access of health care more into foray than public
Hence, it appears a human right to health agenda threatens to reduce
health to health care and reinforce inequalities.
Consider agents working in human right