collective-capabilities-and-development-ethics-public-health-in-an-era-of-rising-negative-capabilities

Khoo, Su Ming (2017). 'Collective capabilities and development ethics: public health in an era of rising negative capabilities' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Cape Town 2017.

Abstract

This poster illustrates how health can be positioned more centrally in development ethics. As suggested by the numerous contributions to the SDGs that highlight ‘health in all policies’, health as the goal of development, and as the indicator for whether development is happening. The poster explains how to sets this ambition for health within debates about collective capabilities, taking into consideration current concerns about the rise in ‘negative capabilities’ which collectively influence individuals’ reasoning and choices. It graphically presents how public health can be combines with and new public goods theory to provide alternatives that substitute positive for negative collective capabilities. Public health aligns well with collective capabilities since it is concerned with society’s interest in assuring conditions in which people can be healthy (Koplan & Fleming 2000). ‘Future public health’ is similar, but even more expansive, concerning ‘the organised efforts of society in preserving and enhancing all that makes life worth living for everyone and to give every individual and community reasons to value their existence and contribution’(Hanlon et al 2011). The poster shows the four main pillars of public health ethics: autonomy, beneficence, non-maleficence, and justice, connecting these ethical pillars to four obligations that can be directly linked to development ethics, goals and programming: i) identifying and minimising burdens of collective programmes ii) fair procedures for dealing with burdens iii) reducing morbidity and mortality iv) reliable scientific evidence as an underpinning. In view of current socio-political developments, the discussion raises questions about scientific evidence and how public understandings of science connect to negative and positive individual and collective capabilities for public health.

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