Is Health Care a Human Right?

Free and open to the public.

Friday, October 10 - Saturday, October 11

The Quadrangle Club, Library
1155 E 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637

This two-day symposium, presented by the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society and the Pozen Family Center for Human Rights, brought interdisciplinary scholars together to ask first whether there is a human right to health care. Symposium participants also explored how to define a right to health care and then who has the obligation to provide and protect this right.

Organized by UChicago Professor Daniel Brudney, Department of Philosophy and the College.


Symposium Schedule

Friday, October 10


Daniel Brudney, University of Chicago

“Can a Right to Health Care be Justified by Linkage Arguments?”
James W. Nickel, University of Miami


“Still No Human Right to Health(Care): Against the Argument from Subtraction”
Gopal Sreenivasan, Duke University

Lunch in the Solarium

“The Health Capability Paradigm and the Right to Health Care”
Jennifer Prah Ruger, University of Pennsylvania


"Health (Care) and Human Rights: A Fundamental Conditions Approach"
S. Matthew Liao, New York University


“Context-Dependent Rights and Health Care”
Sarah Conly, Bowdoin College

Saturday, October 11


Daniel Brudney, The University of Chicago

“A Right to Healthcare? Participatory Politics, Progressive Policy and the Price of Loose Language”
David Reidy, University of Tennessee – Knoxville


“Just Global Health: Integrating Human Rights and Common Goods in Global Health Policy”
John Tasioulas, King’s College London

Lunch in the Solarium

Practical Implications
Varun Gauri, World Bank

Discussion about Next Steps

A symposium affiliated with Health and Human Rights in the Humanities: Building Capacity with Human Rights Principles, a project of the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society. Support provided by the Franke Institute for the Humanities. 

Sarah Conly is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME. She teaches and writes in moral and political philosophy and is currently completing a book on whether there is a right to have more than one child.

Varun Gauri is Senior Economist with the Development Research Group of the World Bank and Co-Director of the World Development Report 2015 on Mind and Culture. His current research examines how legal institutions and conceptions of justice and human rights affect human welfare. 

S. Matthew Liao is the Director for the MA Program in Bioethics, the Associate Professor of the Center for Bioethics, and Affiliated Professor of Philosophy at New York University. 

Photo Credit: Ryan Lash

James W. Nickel is Professor of Philosophy and Law at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, FL. He teaches and writes in human rights law and theory, political philosophy, philosophy of law, and constitutional law.

David A. Reidy is Professor of Philosophy and Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Tennessee. He is widely published in political and legal philosophy and has come in recent years to focus on the political philosophy of John Rawls, the philosophy of human rights and international justice, and issues in applied political and legal philosophy.  

Jennifer Prah Ruger is Associate Professor of Medical Ethics & Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a scholar of global and domestic health policy and public health who studies problems such as equity and efficiency of health system access, financing, resource allocation, policy reform, and the social determinants of health. 

Gopal Sreenivasan is Crown Professor of Ethics at Duke University. His recent work in bioethics focuses on health and human rights, where he is skeptical; on the justice of health care rationing, which he defends; and on the injustice of inequalities in health.

John Tasioulas is Yeoh Professor of Politics, Philosophy, & Law at the Dickson Poon School of Law, King's College London and Director of the Yeoh Tiong Lay Centre for Politics, Philosophy, and Law. He has published widely in moral, legal and political philosophy, with a special focus in recent years on human rights and international law.