May a Government Mandate More Extensive Health Insurance than Citizens Want for Themselves?

February 10, 2017 • 3:30 PM • West Duke 204
Main Content

Alex Voorhoeve, from the Philosophy Department of the London School of Economics and Bioethics Department of NIH will discuss his paper, "May a Government Mandate more Extensive Health Insurance than Citizens Want for Themselves?" He critically examines a common liberal egalitarian view about the justification for, and proper content of, mandatory health insurance. This view holds that a mandate is justified because it is the best way to ensure that those in poor health are insured on equitable terms. It also holds that a government should mandate what a representative prudent individual would purchase for themselves if they were placed in fair conditions of choice. He argues that this common justification for a mandate is incomplete. A further reason for mandated insurance is that it helps secure social egalitarian public goods that would be underprovided if insurance were optional. I also argue that rather than mandating what a representative individual would choose for themselves, we should design the mandatory package by appealing to a pluralistic egalitarian view, which cares about improving people's well-being, reducing unfair inequality, and maintaining egalitarian social relations. Co-sponsored by Duke Law's Center for Law, Ethics and Public Policy and Duke's Department of Philosophy. For more information, please contact Victoria Zellefrow at