Responding to the Tragedies of Our Time - The Human Right to Health and the Virtue of Creative Resolve
Nicole Hassoun (State University of New York at Binghamton)

part of: Social and Political Philosophy in the Time of Covid
October 8, 2021, 3:00pm - 5:00pm

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Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green State University

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We live in tragic times. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to surge around the world, and rich countries purchase the vast supply of vaccines, therapeutics, and other essential health technologies depriving the global poor of access, what can commitment to respecting, protecting, and fulfilling everyone's human right to health do for us? This paper argues that the human right to health can help us respond to apparent tragedy because the right inspires human rights advocates, claimants, and those with responsibility for fulfilling the right to try hard to satisfy its claims. That is, the right should, and often does, give rise to what I call the virtue of creative resolve. This resolve embodies a fundamental commitment to finding creative solutions to what appear to be tragic dilemmas. Contra critics, we should not reject the right even if it cannot tell us how to ration scarce health resources. Rather, the right gives us a response to apparent tragedy in motivating us to search for ways of fulfilling everyone’s basic health needs. Moreover, the paper argues that creative resolve can help us better prepare for, and respond to, existential threats like global pandemics. Doing so requires figuring out how to put in place basic health care systems for all. Furthermore, the international community must come up with creative ways of restructuring pharmaceutical research and development to better prepare for, and respond to, these threats. I aim to propose a package of policies that illustrate the kind of creative resolve - or fundamental commitment to overcoming apparent tragedy - I believe the international community should implement to ensure that people everywhere can flourish. Creative resolve, I will argue, can help us find our way in these difficult times so that we can overcome apparent tragedy together.

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