Istnienie, wolność, sprawiedliwość a etyczne problemy medycyny

Henryk Jankowski

Existence, Freedom, Justice and Problems of Medicine

This investigation concerns the possible role of axiology in the solution of ethical questions in contemporary medicine. Health sciences are usually considered to be practical disciplines. It is very important therefore to make it clear what gamut of ends they aim to achieve. On the other hand, health conceived as a value is also a complex axiological entity. Identification of the components of health may consequently lead us to see more clearly what are the principle aims and the lines of development in health sciences and in the health care system.

The article is devoted to problems of two kinds. First, it deals with questions of disproportion between the demand for health care and the existing forms of meeting its scope. Secondly, the article is addressed to more general issues which need to be solved after the individual questions of distribution have been settled.

The article discusses for example the problem of the value of existence, in context of birth control, euthanasia, and the choice of social policies in the field of health care. The author next examines the relation between the concept of liberty as it was defined by J. S. Mill and the inevitable limitations of liberty produced by the functioning of the health system. The problem of justice is finally undertaken in connection with distribution rules that have to be used by the health service in conflicting situations.

The author concludes that those branches of axiology should be primarily developed which may have the strongest impact on decision making in general, and on the problems faced by health sciences and health services in particular.