What are Collective Values?
In his paper, Dawson criticizes what he calls “the dominant approach” in public health ethics that heavily focuses on individual liberty and argues for “substantive health ethics” that incorporates other values such as public and common goods, common interests, and social values. The author argues in this commentary that there are two ways to understand those notions of “collective values,” which could produce two entirely different ways of coping with public health-related issues. Dawson seems to conceive collective values objectively, in the sense that those values can diverge from the ones people actually value. However, yet another interpretation would be that we can conceive collective values in terms of what people actually value. By adopting the latter point of view regarding “collective values,” some public health policies might not be admissible.
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