Amartya Sen, ethics, and economics in the health care sector.
Economics promotes market mechanisms for the efficient use of resources in satisfying human want, yet market mechanisms are apparently unable to provide adequate health care and thereby satisfy a need central to a person’s well-being. This research report looks at the views of Amartya Sen and particularly his ideas of distributive justice and capability. It also considers some of the insights that economics provides for an understanding of the apparent limitations that occur in health care provision. The findings point towards a curtailed view of what may reasonably be obtained and a recognition that only limited agreement on any arrangement for health care provision may be possible within society. Sen’s capability approach provides a pertinent and expansive measure of a person’s well-being and freedom; it should not be ignored in any evaluation of well-being or the acceptability of any policy purporting to improve well-being.