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Law and ethics in population health are undergoing a renaissance. Once fashionable during the Industrial and Progressive eras, the ideals of population health began to wither with the rise of liberalism in the late twentieth century. In their place came a sharpened focus on personal and economic freedom. Political attention shifted from population health to individual health and from public health to private medicine.

The field of public health law and ethics needs a theory and definition (what is public health law and ethics and what are its doctrinal boundaries?); a well-articulated vision (why should health be a salient public value?); and an assessment of law as a tool to promote the public's health (how can law be effective in reducing morbidity and premature mortality?). This paper begins an exploration, which can be fully developed only through the thinking and practice of dedicated public health scholars and advocates.

Publication Citation

32 J.L. Med. & Ethics 509-515 (2004)