Book Brief: Global Justice and Bioethics

Edited by Joseph Millum and Ezekiel J. Emanuel
Oxford University Press (February 2012)
ISBN 9780195379907
315 pages

Editors Millum and Emanuel have compiled a series of essays to link the philosophical questions about global justice, especially of bioethics, and the implementation of ideas and policies. The authors choose to address these issues in two distinct ways: Ideal theory involving more hypothetical defining of what is just and non-ideal theory regarding actual human behaviors.

In the introduction, Millum and Emanuel define key concepts and facts necessary to begin reading about the subject. They also outline the historical relationship between bioethics and political theory, as well as the more pressing problems of global justice and bioethics. The rest of the book concentrates on ideal theory, non-ideal theory, and the relationship between the two.

Throughout this collection of essays, it becomes clear that issues of global justice, such as the rationale for a fair distribution of global resources, nature and amounts of aid given to certain causes, and conflict between social action and cultural practices, are intrinsically linked to public health problems. By examining the bioethical rationale of our actions, the authors question the relationship between human rights and health care, individual and national obligations to international causes, and more. Since the authors themselves come from a wide range of political theory, bioethics, philosophy, scientific, and public health backgrounds, they bring to the book an assortment of viewpoints that allows for a more interesting read.

As the editors note, “These questions have more than theoretical interest; their answers are of direct practical import for policymakers, researchers, advocates, NGOs, scholars, and others.” This book is helpful for those who wish to better understand the roots of global health justice issues, and to learn why the private and public spheres should be working with an integrated approach to health and human rights.