Other Free Encyclopedias » Medicine Encyclopedia » Aging Healthy - Part 2 » Intergenerational Justice - Historical Background, Philosophical And Ethical Background, Contractarian Approaches To Intergenerational Justice, Utilitarian Approaches, Libertarian Approaches

Intergenerational Justice - Utilitarian Approaches

age social care health individuals people

Whereas contractarian approaches take as their starting point the idea of rational choice by individuals, utilitarian theories begin with the premise that all human conduct should promote, to the greatest extent possible, the welfare of all. Whereas Daniels places emphasis on the long-term prudential interest of the individual, utilitarianism is concerned impartially with the interests of all. Thus, utilitarianism sometimes requires substantial sacrifice on the part of individuals as a means to producing the greatest good for everyone. Rather than inviting people to calculate their own prudential interests, utilitarians instruct people to consider the interests of all conscious beings who may be affected by what they do.

How are problems of intergenerational justice settled within a utilitarian framework? Often this approach requires age-based rationing of scarce resources in order to maximize the achievement of some important goal. For instance, it might be argued that to maximize public welfare, scarce health care resources should be aimed at prolonging the life of young persons who are relatively more productive and efficient in their contributions to society. Older individuals contribute to society in fewer areas and function less efficiently where they do. They cease professional work and take leave of active participation in other social roles, such as parenting. Alternatively, working within the utilitarian tradition, it might be argued that older persons should be excluded from scarce medical resources in order to maximize cost savings. As noted already, elderly individuals, on average, consume a disproportionate share of health care. Finally, utilitarian thinking might support agebased rationing in order to yield the greatest possible return on society's health care dollars. The young have, on average, many more years ahead to live than older people do. Therefore, life-extending health care distributed to younger people will tend to yield a greater return on investment in terms of life-years saved.

Intergenerational Justice - Libertarian Approaches [next] [back] Intergenerational Justice - Contractarian Approaches To Intergenerational Justice

User Comments

The following comments are not guaranteed to be that of a trained medical professional. Please consult your physician for advice.

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or