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Justice Theory and Health

East Baltimore
4th term
Berman Institute (Bioethics)
3 credits
Academic Year:
2021 - 2022
Instruction Method:
Synchronous Online with Some Asynchronous Online
Class Times:
  • Wednesday,  3:30 - 6:20pm
Auditors Allowed:
Yes, with instructor consent
Grading Restriction:
Letter Grade or Pass/Fail
Course Instructor:
Ruth Faden



Why do you think health matters? Are all inequalities in health equally important? Are you interested in learning more about the philosophical literature on justice and human rights?

Engage with moral and political thought about what structural justice and human rights entail and why they matter to public health.

Many of us are attracted to public health because of a desire to make the world not only a better place, but also a more just one. But what does that mean?

Explores how to make the world a better and more just place from the standpoint of human rights and justice theory. Topics include the distinctive role of justice and structural justice in moral thought, theoretical foundations for human rights, the relationship between human rights and justice, and the related concepts of fairness, power and disadvantage. Explores these topics in the particular context of the pandemic.

Learning Objectives:

Upon successfully completing this course, students will be able to:

  1. Evaluate why health matters morally according to alternative theories of justice
  2. Identify the philosophical foundations of the human right to health
  3. Explain what is distinctive about justice theories in general, and structural theories in particular
  4. Identify the relationship between justice, fairness, power and disadvantage and its implications for public health
Methods of Assessment:

This course is evaluated as follows:

  • 50% Discussion
  • 50% Final Paper

Enrollment Restriction:

Priority enrollment given to MBE students.

Instructor Consent:

Consent required for some students

Consent Note:

All students NOT enrolled in MBE degree program require instructor consent

For consent, contact:

Jointly Offered With:
Special Comments:

Taught synchronously, in an online seminar format. After an initial plenary session, the class is divided into two breakout groups of no more than ten students each. Students in each group meets for one hour without the instructor and one hour with. During the hour without the instructor, students work-shop paper ideas, and discuss specific questions that are circulated in advance of class.