The Sufficientarian Alternative: A Commentary on Setting Health-Care Priorities

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Jay Zameska


In this commentary on Torbjörn Tännsjö’s Setting Health-Care Priorities, I argue that sufficientarianism provides a valuable perspective in considering how to set health care priorities. I claim that pace Tännsjö, sufficientarianism does offer a distinct alternative to prioritarianism. To demonstrate this, I introduce sufficientarianism and distinguish two forms: Tännsjö’s “weak sufficientarianism” and an alternative strong form of sufficientarianism that I call “revised lexical sufficientarianism.” I raise a problem for Tännsjö’s sufficientarianism, and advocate for the revised view on this basis. I then demonstrate that in the area of population ethics, the revised view outperforms the other views Tännsjö considers. As such, I aim to demonstrate that sufficientarianism — understood as its own theory and not just as a form of prioritarianism — offers unique advantages in population ethics, and would have been a valuable complement to the other theories Tännsjö considers.


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Zameska, Jay. 2020. “The Sufficientarian Alternative: A Commentary on Setting Health-Care Priorities”. Diametros 18 (68):46-59.
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