• Social Justice and Global Perspectives on Health Improvement and Well-being

      Mabhala, Mzwandile A.; University of Chester (McGraw-Hill/ Open University Press, 2014-10-01)
      This chapter critically defines social justice. It openly declares that its analysis of social justice is situated within a particular political position, and explains why that position is taken in relation to public health and inequalities in health. It proposes that, in a just society, the primary function of the state should be to produce policies that enable all members of society to have fair and genuine access to opportunities to obtain the social goods that determine health and well-being. It goes on to critically review the literature on three differing theories of social justice – the libertarian, utilitarian, and egalitarian philosophies – particularly their fundamental claims regarding equality and fairness in the distribution of privilege and deprivation. It notes that egalitarian theories are consistent with the social justice principles of equality and fairness, on the understanding that egalitarian philosophy proposes an equal distribution of social goods; and as the evidence suggests that health inequalities are rooted on an uneven distribution of social goods, egalitarian theories are proposed as a suitable approach for addressing inequalities in health. Furthermore, evidence shows that egalitarian approaches, which place more emphasis on health – as opposed to healthcare or access to health services – provide a better solution to the social injustice of health inequalities. This chapter uses examples from the UK, South Africa and elsewhere to explain why egalitarian social justice principles provide a perfect fit with the practice of public health policy. It also justifies why health, as opposed to healthcare, has special moral importance for social justice in health inequalities; and argues that, if health and social policies are to have any chance of reducing health inequalities they will have to pay more attention to health rather than health services.