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Professional ethics are concerned with the ethical dimensions of professionalism and the moral trust that society bestows on public health professionals to act for the common welfare. This form of ethical discourse stresses the distinct history and traditions of the profession, seeking to create a culture of professionalism among public health students and practitioners. It instills in professionals a sense of public duty and trust.
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Professional ethics are role oriented, helping practitioners to act in virtuous ways as they undertake their functions. Currently, several agencies are developing a Code of Public Health Ethics. An example is located at www.publichealthlaw.net/reader. Public health ethics are concerned not so much with the character of professionals as with the ethical dimensions of the public health enterprise itself.
As you have seen in the first two modules, the field of public health is highly complex. What is the meaning of pivotally important abstract concepts that are common in public health: population, community, risk, harm, and benefit? How should society decide when it is necessary and appropriate to intervene to protect the public’s health? Are factors such as risk, effectiveness, cost, burdens, and fairness the best ways to evaluate public health interventions? How does the population perspective differ from the individual perspective? To what extent should social justice be an animating value in public health? Practitioners use various forms of reasoning in analyzing these problems, notably ethics, law, and human rights. Each form of reasoning has its own benefits and disadvantages. While each form of reasoning is distinct, all the forms overlap in important ways. One thing is certainly clear, there are no “correct” answers in public health. However, careful examination of principles and values taken from each of these fields can clarify thinking and, ultimately, lead to more effective and just policies and practices in public health.
In Module 3, we will look more closely at public health ethics and apply them to your work setting.
Identify and discuss ethical issues that pertain to public health. Identify applicable ethical theories and principles. Discuss the role of ethical theories and principles in public health.
Discuss the application of the following ethical theories/principles to public health. Provide recent examples within the field of public health which are consistent or inconsistent with these principles:
- Distributive Justice
Selgelid (2009) wrote:
While public health ethicists often claim that the least restrictive alternative should be used to achieve the public health goal in question, I argue that a plausible but under-recognized idea is that the least restrictive alternative might sometimes involve improvement of global health via redistributive taxation—i.e., rather than coercive social distancing measures.
What did he mean by this? Provide arguments for and against his position.
Length: Assignment should be from 3 to 4 pages (750 to 1000 words) in length.
Assessment and Grading: Your paper will be assessed based on the performance assessment grading rubric that is linked within the course. Review it before you begin working on the assignment.