Global Obligations and the Human Right to Health

In Tracy Isaacs, Kendy Hess & Violetta Igneski (eds.), Collective Obligation: Ethics, Ontology and Applications (forthcoming)
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In this paper I attempt to show how an appeal to a particular kind of collective obligation - a collective obligation falling on an unstructured collective consisting of the world’s population as a whole – can be used to undermine recently influential objections to the idea that there is a human right to health which have been put forward by Gopal Sreenivasan and Onora O’Neill. I take this result to be significant both for its own sake and because it helps to answer a challenge often put to Those who argue for the existence of collective obligations: namely, to explain why the question of whether there are any such obligations might matter from a practical point of view. One way of introducing the objection is to focus on questions of agency. Here I'll argue both that there can be obligations on groups that are not themselves collective agents, and that these can play an important explanatory and clarifcatory role in accounting for obligations which fall on individuals.
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