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Abstract

Much of the political rhetoric about healthcare in the United States is couched in terms of healthcare as a right or entitlement. Healthcare as a right, like all welfare rights, carries with it the obligation to pay for it. This paper proposes that healthcare be considered, not a right, but rather a duty within the framework of a Kantian approach to ethics. The categorical imperatives of rational beings include the duties of self-preservation and self-development. As a precondition for these duties, health is essentially bound up with the nature and duties of physical, rational beings. The complexity of healthcare ensures that virtually all persons will need the services of others, and the expense of healthcare can exceed the resources even of those who are insured. Therefore, a just society has a moral duty to ensure access to healthcare to all of its members.

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