Health Care Analysis

, Volume 24, Issue 2, pp 161–173 | Cite as

Flourishing in Health Care

  • Andrew EdgarEmail author
  • Stephen Pattison
Original Article


The purpose of this paper is to offer an account of ‘flourishing’ that is relevant to health care provision, both in terms of the flourishing of the individual patient and carer, and in terms of the flourishing of the caring institution. It is argued that, unlike related concepts such as ‘happiness’, ‘well-being’ or ‘quality of life’, ‘flourishing’ uniquely has the power to capture the importance of the vulnerability of human being. Drawing on the likes of Heidegger and Nussbaum, it is argued that humans are at once beings who are autonomous and thereby capable of making sense of their lives, but also subject to the contingencies of their bodies and environments. To flourish requires that one engages, imaginatively and creatively, with those contingencies. The experience of illness, highlighting the vulnerability of the human being, thereby becomes an important experience, stimulating reflection in order to make sense of one’s life as a narrative. To flourish, it is argued, is to tell a story of one’s life, realistically engaging with vulnerability and suffering, and thus creating a framework through which one can meaningful and constructively go on with one’s life.


Vulnerability Narrative Well-being Happiness Heidegger Nussbaum MacIntyre 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre for Applied EthicsCardiff UniversityCardiffUK
  2. 2.Department of Theology and Religion, ERI BuildingUniversity of BirminghamEdgbaston, BirminghamUK

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