How (Not) to Argue for the Rule of Rescue: Claims of Individuals versus Group Solidarity

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


The idea of the rule of rescue is that special weight should be given to protecting lives of assignable individuals in need now even if protecting others in the future would be more cost-effective. How can this be justified? One way to cast the problem is to see it as a conflict between a collectivist approach that emphasizes protecting groups or populations versus an approach that boils down to protecting individuals. This chapter argues that one individual-oriented approach to ethics, namely contractualism, will not succeed in justifying the rule of rescue. A more promising route would instead be to focus on collectivistic values like solidarity. It argues that values like solidarity and community may render support for rescue cases. Yet such arguments are not without problems. Moreover, they have limited relevance to discussions about resource allocation in health care.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationIdentified versus Statistical Lives: An Interdisciplinary Perspective
EditorsGlenn Cohen, Norman Daniels, Nir Eyal
Place of PublicationNew York
PublisherOxford University Press
ISBN (Print)9780190217471
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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