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Setting Health-Care PrioritiesWhat Ethical Theories Tell Us$
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Torbjörn Tännsjö

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190946883

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190946883.001.0001

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(p.172) 13 Conclusion
Setting Health-Care Priorities

Torbjörn Tännsjö

Oxford University Press

Even if according to all plausible theories of distributive justice, spending more on the care and cure of patients suffering from mental illness should be a priority rather than on marginal life extension, this will not happen. The reason has to do with fear of death and human irrationality. Does the fact that we will not abide by any one of the theories, even if we are convinced that it is true, mean that there is something wrong with it? Does our reluctance to act on the theories mean that they must be false? I think not. Here I avail myself in my argument of moral realism. If there is a truth in the matter, there is no reason to believe that the correct moral theory must be such that we abide by it, once we accept it (theoretically speaking) as true. This means that our unwillingness to live according to the theories does not show that they are unreasonable. The problem lies not with the theories themselves but rather with our unwillingness to abide by them. We are to blame, not abstract moral theory.

Keywords:   John Mackie, moral realism, irrationality, fear of death

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