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 - Libertarian Approaches

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Whereas utilitarian approaches tend to grant societies authority to require substantial sacrifices from individuals to promote the public welfare, libertarians reject state authority altogether, or at least want to see it substantially reduced. Libertarians underscore individual liberty and individual rights to private property. While bearing affinities to social-contract theories, which also place emphasis on free choice by rational individuals, libertarians tend to emphasize the free market approach to distributing scarce resources. According to one prominent libertarian view, what makes a distribution of scarce resources just or unjust is not its outcome, but how it was arrived at. So long as individuals are free to acquire and exchange goods on a free market, whatever distribution of goods results is just.

What are the implications of libertarian thinking for intergenerational justice debates? First, one cannot say in advance how much of society's scarce health care resources the old and the young deserve. Rather than viewing health care as a right, the libertarian views private property as a right. Thus, people are free to exchange private property for health care, or for other goods, in a free market. According to this conception, inequalities in health care are fair if they were historically acquired through fair acquisitions and exchanges, rather than through blatantly unfair means such as stealing, enslaving, defrauding, or otherwise coercing people. Society is not justified in establishing health care policies that require, through taxing or other means, individuals to sacrifice justly acquired goods. When elderly or other groups in a society lack access to basic health care, the libertarian calls upon a principle of charity, rather than social justice, to improve their plight.

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