For the past few weeks I have been looking at many different moral issues related to distributing health care resources. All of the topics have been challenging and interesting, but I found that I was not strongly inclined to either side for most of the topics. Not so for the latest topic. Next week we will be discussing whether an individual’s personal responsibility should be a consideration when deciding how to distribute resources.
At the moment I feel quite strongly that responsibility should not be a consideration when distributing any resources – health or otherwise. The reason that I’m opposed to responsibility based distribution stem from the topic of my previous post – people in disadvantaged rolls in society have less willpower. Punishing them for this lack of willpower is a double whammy. This does not mean that I’m universally against any kind of incentives or encouragement – if we found that reducing health benefits for smokers significantly decreased smoking then I would at least consider such a policy, for example. I am just against any responsibility based justification for such a policy.
Probably more controversially, I would extend very similar reasoning to areas like criminal justice. I do not think that punishment, the infliction of harm because a criminal is deserving of harm, should be a consideration in the dispensation of justice. That people desire that criminals be punished is a sensible consideration, but it should not be the role of the state to desire punishment on its citizens behest.
Let me know what you think,
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