You are never guilty of it if you get cancer or diabetes because nobody is ultimately responsible for your own health, says a Danish philosopher. We do not have a free will to completely decide whether our lives should be healthy.
ig smokers who cough up as they pounce on their smokers or overweight people who are daily in junk food are well-blamed for it if they get lung cancer or diabetes. They know that cigarettes and deep fried French fries are unhealthy.
But no. Neither smokers, overpowerers, alcoholics, eco-freaks, exerciseists or anyone else are ultimately responsible for their own health, concludes a new philosophical dissertation.
"You can not be responsible for anything when you have no free will and there is no reason to believe we have. There is always a reason we act as we do, "says Martin Marchman Andersen, philosopher who has just defended his PhD. on personal responsibility and inequality in health at the University of Copenhagen's Department of Media, Recognition and Communication.
Responsibility and inequality
In Denmark, our state of health depends on our social conditions, so those with the poorest terms also have the poorest health. The degree of inequality in health reflects the degree of social inequality, and studies show clear statistical relationships between the length of our education and the number of our years of life: the longer an education, the healthier a life.
"Therefore, there is a lot of talk about inequality in health, and the topic is often discussed politically. Discussion has a major influence on how our health goods are distributed, so it is important to get precise theoretical answers, "says Martin Marchman Andresen, who in his PhD makes up a widespread view that the mind has a free choices to live as it will and that some inequality in health is therefore fair.
"The concept of responsibility is used backwards in a way that justifies inequality in health. An attitude that is often heard is, for example, that a fat person who has overpowered junk food himself is responsible for diabetes. "
But when it is expressed that inequality in public health is reasonable because the individual has personal responsibility, it is simply wrong, argues Martin Marchman Andersen.
Determined for unhealthy lifestyles
One can not justify there being inequality in health by referring to personal responsibility. Because even if some can get rid of the smokers, throw the excess kilo and put their lifestyle on, the individual is never ultimately responsible for whether he / she is able to do that.
Man can not be responsible for his own health or anything else, for neither of us is the ultimate lord of the choices we make. There is always an underlying reason why we act and live as we do, and for that reason we do not have complete control over individuals, Martin Marchmann argues:
"Of course, you can well live your lifestyle and live healthy, but you can never be responsible if you do not manage it. Our lives and choices are always determined by the opportunities we have, of our growth, environment, genetics, social conditions, social structures and other conditions that we do not influence ourselves. There is an infinitely long list of all things that may be co-ruling, deciding that a given person is acting in a certain way. "
The free will shot down
We can only be responsible for our health if we have the opportunity to act differently than we do, for example. eat healthier, stop smoking or exercise more exercise. But we do not always have that opportunity, according to Martin Marchman Andersen, because we do not have a free will.
"Free will is not a matter of whether we are free to do as we would like, but whether we are ultimately free to decide what we want," he says.
Science is about finding reasons
If we, as individuals, have a free will, we should be able to start new chains of causes and effects, so-called causal chains, which are neither caused by anything else (pre-determined) or arbitrary.
"It's very hard to see how it could be done. Because if an individual does something that is not pre-determined, then it follows that this event has no cause. But it is incompatible with very large parts of our scientific worldview, explaining events, including human actions, by finding their causes, "says Martin Marchman Andersen.
Inequality is unfair
When people eat wrong, smoke too much or exercise too little, there is probably always an ultimate and uncontrollable reason why they do, concludes the philosopher. Not even those who say they enjoy living life unhealthy, do it on the basis of a completely free choice.
Therefore, you can not use personal responsibility as an explanation that big smokers, overweight or others with an unhealthy lifestyle should pay more than others for medical treatment or to be at the back of the queue for an operation.
"Individuals are never responsible for anything in such a way that it can justify their inferiority," says Martin Marchman Andersen.
Nevertheless, there may be advantages of inequality
Although we are not responsible for how we live our lives, there may be good grounds for pretending that we have personal responsibility. Eg. can politicians try to make the population change behavior and live healthier by appealing to their responsibilities.
"There is a difference in whether people are responsible and to keep people responsible. If it can contribute to a better outcome when all is taken into account, keeping people responsible, even if they are not, there is a good reason to do that. Eg. one can try to make people eat healthier by charging sugar to prevent diabetes, "says Martin Marchman Andersen.