Responsibility as an obstacle to good policy: the case of lifestyle related disease

Neil Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

There is a lively debate over who is to blame for the harms arising from unhealthy behaviours, like overeating and excessive drinking. In this paper, I argue that given how demanding the conditions required for moral responsibility actually are, we cannot be highly confident that anyone is ever morally responsible. I also adduce evidence that holding people responsible for their unhealthy behaviours has costs: it undermines public support for the measures that are likely to have the most impact on these harms. I claim that these two facts—the fact that we cannot be highly confident that anyone is morally responsible and the fact that holding people responsible for their unhealthy behaviours has costs—interact. Together they give us a powerful reason for believing, or acting as if we believed, that ordinary people are not in fact responsible for their unhealthy behaviours.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)459-468
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Bioethical Inquiry
Volume15
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2018. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • Lifestyle disease
  • Obesity
  • Policy
  • Responsibility

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