Ethics. Research. Community.

Public health ethics. Public justification and public trust.

Bundesgesundheitsblatt, Gesundheitsforschung, Gesundheitsschutz. 
[Record Source: PubMed]
Viewing public health as a political and social undertaking as well as a goal of this activity, the authors develop some key elements in a framework for public health ethics, with particular attention to the formation of public health policies and to decisions by public health officials that are not fully determined by established public policies. They concentrate on ways to approach ethical conflicts about public health interventions. These conflicts arise because, in addition to the value of public health, societies have a wide range of other values that sometimes constrain the selection of means to achieve public health goals. The authors analyze three approaches for resolving these conflicts (absolutist, contextualist, and presumptivist), argue for the superiority of the presumptivist approach, and briefly explicate five conditions for rebutting presumptions in a process of public justification. In a liberal, pluralistic, democratic society, a presumptivist approach that engages the public in the context of a variety of relationships can provide a foundation for public trust, which is essential to public health as a political and social practice as well as to achieving public health goals.
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