Health Care Analysis

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 4–12 | Cite as

Relational Ethics for Public Health: Interpreting Solidarity and Care

  • Bruce JenningsEmail author
Original Article


This article defends ‘relational theorizing’ in bioethics and public health ethics and describes its importance. It then offers an interpretation of solidarity and care understood as normatively patterned and psychologically and socially structured modes of relationality; in a word, solidarity and care understood as ‘practices.’ Solidarity is characterized as affirming the moral standing of others and their membership in a community of equal dignity and respect. Care is characterized as paying attention to the moral (and mortal) being of others and their needs, suffering, and vulnerability. The wager of relational theorizing in health care and public health is that substantive ethical visions of solidarity and care will provide support for more just and egalitarian health care and public health policies.


Bioethics Public health ethics Solidarity Care Ethical theory 



An earlier version of this article was presented as The Third Annual Jonathan Montgomery Lecture at the Centre for Health, Ethics, and Law, University of Southampton, on 15 January 2018. A more extended discussion of solidarity and care is presented in Jennings [11].


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Hastings CenterGarrisonUSA
  2. 2.Center for Biomedical Ethics and SocietyVanderbilt University School of MedicineNashvilleUSA

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