Citizens' consent to political decisions is often regarded as a necessary condition of political legitimacy. Consequently, legitimate allocation of healthcare has seemed almost unattainable in contemporary pluralistic societies. The problem is that citizens do not agree on any single principle governing priorities among groups of patients. The Accountability for Reasonableness (A4R) framework suggests an ingenious solution to this problem of moral disagreement. Rather than advocating any substantive distributive principle, its advocates propose a feasible set of conditions, which, if met by decision makers at the institutional level, provide, so it is promised, legitimate decisions. While we agree that A4R represents an important contribution to the priority-setting debate, we challenge the framework in two respects. First, we argue that A4R, and more specifically the relevance condition of A4R, does not enable healthcare institutions to generally distinguish between relevant and irrelevant reasons for priority-setting. Second, we criticize Daniels' and Sabin's argument that A4R and deliberative democracy constitute necessary and sufficient conditions of a feasible procedure for setting legitimate limits within healthcare.
Public Health Ethics, 2009, Vol 2, Issue 1, p. 59-69
A4R; James Sabin; legitimacy; priority setting; Norman Daniels; health care; reasonableness