Balancing Death against Lesser Burdens: Philosophy, Psychology and Policy

Experience world-class philosophy of health: Sign up for one or both of the lectures with professor Alex Voorhoeve from the London School of Economics right here:

The topics of the lectures are priority in health, and how to enjoy life without fearing death.

Researchers from the Department of Public Health at KU and other experts contribute to roundtable discussions after each of the lectures.

The first lecture is about how our healthcare system  should prioritize between patients:

Balancing Death against Lesser Burdens: Philosophy, Psychology and Policy

Health policy-makers have to make difficult decisions about who to prioritize for care. The most commonly used principles for priority setting take one of two forms: either they tell policy-makers to maximize total health-related well-being in their population, or they tell them to improve overall population health while assigning somewhat more weight to improvements in the health of the worse off. Many philosophers have objected that such standard principles counterintuitively allow one person’s very severe burden, such an early death, to be outweighed by a multitude of minor burdens, such as toenail fungus. There is, however, little evidence of the public’s views. I present novel survey evidence which suggests that a large share of people indeed do not think that death can be outweighed by a multitude of minor burdens. I argue that these findings suggest that the most commonly used priority-setting principles may lack legitimacy, and that alternative principles that limit the degree to which death can be outweighed by lesser burdens may be superior, because they have a reasonable basis and are more widely supported by the public.

Round table:

  • Ezio Di Nucci (professor with special responsibilities in bioethics, Section of Health Services Research, Department of Public Health, University of Copenhagen)
  • Ida Donkin (MD, PhD, member of the Danish National Center for Ethics and the Prioritization Council)
  • Mickael Bech (professor of health management and politics, University of Southern Denmark)

Read about the second lecture "How to Enjoy Yourself and Become Immune to the Harm of Death" via this link.

The lectures are free, open to the public and make for the perfect beginning of Culture Night in the Maersk Tower and Copenhagen. Please remember to sign up via this link.

Alex Voorhoeve is Professor and Head of Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He studied economics and philosophy at Erasmus University, Cambridge University, and UCL. He joined the LSE in 2004 and has worked there ever since, though he has held visiting positions at Harvard (2008-09), Princeton (2012-13), the National Institutes of Health, U.S. (2016-17) and Erasmus University Rotterdam (2017-21). He works on the theory and practice of distributive justice (especially as it relates to health), on rational choice theory, moral psychology and Epicureanism. He has acted as a consultant on justice in health to the WHO, the World Bank, and the Norwegian Institute of Public Health, among others.