Public Reason and Public Health: Can Anti-smoking Policies Be Justified According to a Public Reason Account of Justification?

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Public reason demands that policies are justified to all reasonable citizens. Public health aims at protecting or improving aggregated health outcomes. Since health is not an uncontroversial value, an insurmountable chasm between public reason and public health seems to preclude any viable synthesis between the two outlooks. For any given public health policy, some reasonable citizen seems to have a reason to support ‘no policy’ over ‘some policy’, meaning that the policy cannot be justified to all. The paper first spells out what exactly this conflict is about. Then, using smoking as a case, the paper outlines a model of reconciliation between public reason and public health that should give us some optimism if we want to have public health policies that are compatible with treating citizens as free and equal in the public reason sense.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPublic Health Ethics
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)104-116
Publication statusPublished - 9 Apr 2022

ID: 304060219