Discrimination Based on Personal Responsibility: Luck Egalitarianism and Healthcare Priority Setting
New paper by Andreas Brøgger Albertsen in Cambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics, published by Cambridge University Press
Luck egalitarianism is a responsibility-sensitive theory of distributive justice. Its application to health and healthcare is controversial. This article addresses a novel critique of luck egalitarianism, namely, that it wrongfully discriminates against those responsible for their health disadvantage when allocating scarce healthcare resources. The philosophical literature about discrimination offers two primary reasons for what makes discrimination wrong (when it is): harm and disrespect. These two approaches are employed to analyze whether luck egalitarian healthcare prioritization should be considered wrongful discrimination. Regarding harm, it is very plausible to consider the policies harmful but much less reasonable to consider those responsible for their health disadvantages a socially salient group. Drawing on the disrespect literature, where social salience is typically not required for something to be discrimination, the policies are a form of discrimination. They are, however, not disrespectful. The upshot of this first assessment of the discrimination objection to luck egalitarianism in health is, thus, that it fails.