The Duty to Care: Democratic Equality and Responsibility for End-of-Life Health Care

  • Martin Gunderson
Part of the Library of Ethics and Applied Philosophy book series (LOET, volume 30)


All forms of egalitarianism have important implications for health care. In her classic essay, “What is the Point of Equality?” Elizabeth Anderson sketches a version of egalitarianism that she calls “democratic equality” (Anderson 1999). I argue that Anderson’s theory of democratic equality, when suitably modified, is more plausible than her luck egalitarian critics have claimed and that it has important implications for health care generally and end-of-life care in particular. Anderson’s Democratic equality is able to account for some of the main insights of luck egalitarianism while avoiding its counter-intuitive implications. In addition, democratic equality can explain the role of responsibility in health care while providing a justification of universal health care regardless of prior choices made by those needing health care. In this respect, democratic equality justifies a duty on the part of society to provide care for citizens throughout their lives while setting limits on the scope of the duty. At the same time democratic equality justifies a duty to care for one’s own health.


Moral Agency Moral Worth Assisted Suicide Moral Equality Luck Egalitarianism 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyMacalester CollegeSaint PaulUSA

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