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Social Responsibility and Healthcare in Finland

The Luck Egalitarian Challenge to Scandinavian Welfare Ideals

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 June 2016


This article examines current trends and prospects in Finnish healthcare literature and discussion. The Finnish healthcare system was long considered to manifest an equal, universal, and solidaristic welfare scheme. However, recent data reveals structural inequalities in access to healthcare that result in health differences among socioeconomic groups. The political will aims at tackling these inequalities, but the ideological trend toward responsibilization of the individual taking place across political spheres elsewhere in Europe creates potential challenges to this goal. The applications of this trend have a theoretical background in the responsibility-sensitive egalitarian—or luck egalitarian—tradition. The theory, which is unfit for real-life policy applications, has explicit appeal in considerations aiming at the responsibilization of the individual within the healthcare sector. It remains to be seen in which direction the Finnish welfare schemes will continue to develop.

Special Section: Bioethics Beyond Borders
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2016 

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54. The “moralism of responsibility” is discussed by Scheffler as a way of placing the focus of the reasons for poverty directly on the poor themselves, which enables the well-off to feel that they can take credit for their own success without needing to be troubled for the less fortunate. The moralism of responsibility entails that there is something immoral about being poor (see note 43, Scheffler 2005). A similar moralism can be seen in a moralism of health. As Joel Feinberg notes, if the surveillance of morality is extended to the private sphere of life, the detecting authorities will insult individual privacy by monitoring the citizen’s private life. Feinberg J. Social Philosophy. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall; 1973, at 40.

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