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date: 30 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter argues against the use of stigma-inducing measures as tools of public health on grounds of social justice. The value of social justice in public health includes both a distributive demand for a fair share of health and the social determinants thereof and a recognitional demand to be treated as a peer in public life. The use of stigma-inducing measures violates the first demand by thwarting people’s access to important intra- and interpersonal, communal, and institutional resources that confer a health advantage; it violates the second by denying people’s shared humanity and ignoring complex non-dominant identities. The position taken in this chapter does not preclude public health measures that regulate and ban health-harming substances or try to move people toward healthier behaviors. It does require that public health partner with people to identify their communities’ health challenges and opportunities and to treat people as resourceful agents of change.

Keywords: social justice, distributive justice, health equity, recognition, ethics, utilitarian, communitarian, human rights, contractualism, responsibility

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