A Lockean argument for universal access to health care

Social Philosophy and Policy 28 (2):166-191 (2011)
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This essay defends the controversial and indeed counterintuitive claim that there is a good argument to be made from a Lockean perspective for government action to guarantee access to health care. The essay maintains that this argument is in some regards more robust than the well-known argument in defense of universal health care spelled out by Norman Daniels, which this essay also examines in some detail. Locke's view that government should protect people's lives, property, and freedom–where freedom is understood as independence and self-determination–justifies government action to ensure access to health care, because (roughly), just as individuals cannot protect themselves from crime and foreign invasion, so individuals are unable to provide for their own health care. Defense from disease is as important as defense from crime, and–although this is arguable–government action to guarantee access to health care does not itself undermine freedom.

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Daniel Hausman
University of Wisconsin, Madison


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