Date of Thesis



In this study I will endeavor to show that the American system of health care violates any conception of distributive justice understood as equality of opportunity. This system fails to provide equal access through a lack of universal insurance, a consumer driven conception of quality, and a system wide focus on cost control, leaving millions of Americans exposed to the ravages of disease. However, if health is understood as an antecedent for one's ability to function across a number of categories that have been objectively deemed as vital to engage in a life that is fully human than the commitment our nation has to the protection of fair equality of opportunity, established by our adoption of a Rawlsian conception of justice, necessitates a revision of our nation's conception of quality to encapsulate health outcomes as well as the advent of a system of universal coverage. Quality care will come to be understood as care that returns to the patient the ability to function across those categories of functioning that illness has jeopardized, and this conception of quality will precipitate system wide reform geared at the creation of positive health outcomes. This paper will articulate this argument by reconstructing and synthesizing precepts from the contemporary philosophical sources and then applying these to the practical workings of our healthcare system, while concurrently demonstrating that a system of distributive justice is compatible with the creation of a universal system of healthcare.


health care, justice, fairness

Access Type

Honors Thesis (Bucknell Access Only)


Political Science

First Advisor

Michael Rabinder James