Journal of Medical Ethics
April 2019 – Volume 45 – 4
Does One Health require a novel ethical framework?
(16 February, 2019) Free
Jane Johnson, Chris Degeling
Emerging infectious diseases (EIDs) remain a significant and dynamic threat to the health of individuals and the well-being of communities across the globe. Over the last decade, in response to these threats, increasing scientific consensus has mobilised in support of a One Health (OH) approach so that OH is now widely regarded as the most effective way of addressing EID outbreaks and risks. Given the scientific focus on OH, there is growing interest in the philosophical and ethical dimensions of this approach, and a nascent OH literature is developing in the humanities. One of the key issues raised in this literature concerns ethical frameworks and whether OH merits the development of its very own ethical framework. In this paper, we argue that although the OH approach does not demand a new ethical framework (and that advocates of OH can coherently adhere to this approach while deploying existing ethical frameworks), an OH approach does furnish the theoretical resources to support a novel ethical framework, and there are benefits to developing one that may be lost in its absence. We begin by briefly explaining what an OH approach to the threats posed by EIDs entails before outlining two different ways of construing ethical frameworks. We then show that although on one account of ethical frameworks there is no need for OH to generate its own, there may be advantages for its advocates in doing so.