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    HYAMS, KEITH 2015. Hypothetical Choice, Egalitarianism and the Separateness of Persons. Utilitas, Vol. 27, Issue. 02, p. 217.


Empirical and Armchair Ethics

  • GREG BOGNAR (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 27 November 2012

In a recent paper, Michael Otsuka and Alex Voorhoeve present a novel argument against prioritarianism. The argument takes its starting point from empirical surveys on people's preferences in health care resource allocation problems. In this article, I first question whether the empirical findings support their argument, and then I make some general points about the use of ‘empirical ethics’ in ethical theory.

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Michael Otsuka and Alex Voorhoeve, ‘Why It Matters that Some are Worse Off than Others: An Argument against the Priority View’, Philosophy and Public Affairs 37 (2009), pp. 171–99

Erik Nord, Jose Luis Pinto, Jeff Richardson, Paul Menzel, and Peter Ubel, ‘Incorporating Societal Concerns for Fairness in Numerical Valuations of Health Programmes’, Health Economics 8 (1999), pp. 2539

Koonal K. Shah, ‘Severity of Illness and Priority Setting in Healthcare: A Review of the Literature’, Health Policy 93 (2009), pp. 7784

Paul Dolan, ‘The Effect of Experience of Illness on Health State Valuations’, Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 49 (1996), pp. 551–64

Paul Menzel, Paul Dolan, Jeff Richardson, and Jan Abel Olsen, ‘The Role of Adaptation to Disability and Disease in Health State Valuation: A Preliminary Normative Analysis’, Social Science & Medicine 55 (2002), pp. 2149–58

Graham Loomes and Lynda McKenzie, ‘The Use of QALYs in Health Care Decision Making’, Social Science & Medicine 28 (1989), pp. 299308

Debra G. Froberg and Robert L. Kane, ‘Methodology for Measuring Health-State Preferences – II: Scaling Methods’, Journal of Clinical Epidemiology 42 (1989), pp. 459–71)

Erik Nord, ‘The Trade-Off between Severity of Illness and Treatment Effect in Cost-Value Analysis of Health Care’, Health Policy 24 (1993), pp. 227–38

Erik Nord, Anja Undrum Enge and Veronica Gundersen, ‘QALYs: Is the Value of Treatment Proportional to the Size of the Health Gain?’, Health Economics 19 (2010), pp. 596607

Colin Green, ‘Investigating Public Preferences on “Severity of Health” as a Relevant Condition for Setting Healthcare Priorities’, Social Science & Medicine 68 (2009), pp. 2247–55.)

Paul Menzel, Marthe R. Gold, Erik Nord, Jose-Louis Pinto-Prades, Jeff Richardson, and Peter Ubel, ‘Toward a Broader View of Values in Cost-Effectiveness Analysis of Health’, Hastings Center Report 29 (1999), pp. 715

Rebecca L. Walker and Andrew W. Siegel, ‘Morality and the Limits of Societal Values in Health Care Allocation’, Health Economics 11 (2002), pp. 265–73

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  • ISSN: 0953-8208
  • EISSN: 1741-6183
  • URL: /core/journals/utilitas
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