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Empirical and Armchair Ethics

  • GREG BOGNAR (a1)

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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