Health and Morality

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Jonathan Metzl, associate professor of women's studies and psychiatry at the University of Michigan, and Anna Kirkland, associate professor of women's studies and political science at the University of Michigan, discuss health's role in our ethical landscape. They are editors of a new book, Against Health: How Health Became the New Morality


Anna Kirkland and Jonathan Metzl

Comments [14]

Gene from NYC

1. I agree with JM--this was a shockingly short segment for such a rich subject, as you can see by the comments.

2. I find it interesting that the people who do the most for smokers--who stick by them when/if they get sick, advocate for more funds for lung cancer research, help them quit, etc.--are the very people who advocate for smokefree workplaces, high taxes, etc. That's the American Cancer Society, World Health Organization, etc. Rather than making moral judgments on smokers, they seem to be the only ones out there actively trying to help them.

Dec. 01 2010 12:26 PM
Unheard from NYC

95% of these comments suck. You guys are jerks. How many things must y'all do that others don't approve of that might harm others. If a smokers die younger might this "cost" even out or be less for you wholesome non-smoking life loving people. More than half our taxes go to kill people in wars. Stop being so authoritarian and hypocritical.

Dec. 01 2010 12:02 PM
amalia zarranz from nyc

your guests' argument smack of contrarian ism.

as long as more and more studies reveal second hand smoke as linked to an array of dis-eases, including asthma, and breast cancer, and smokers refuse responsibility for their actions -- then, yes, it is a moral issue. you're putting me in danger.

and, stoney brook advertises just like all other companies. duh. however, yes, it is better (i think) when a company does what they can do for the environment -- no growth hormones, non bpa plastic (though glass is needed). SO, yes, the sicker we become the more these consumption choices appear to be moral.

Dec. 01 2010 11:55 AM
Ken from Soho

Regarding smokers "huddling up outside to smoke", smokers are self-destructive, and harm others with their second-hand smoke. Heavy smokers also stink, literally, as their lungs, breathe and clothing retain and release aerosolized smoke and tars - just try to get on an elevator with a heavy smoker - they stink.

Dec. 01 2010 11:45 AM
Richard from Manhattan

These choices do not, imo, have to do with morality, they have to do with how much these choices cost those of us who try to be healthy. People who chose to be unhealthy via smoking and obesity are costing each and everyone of us money $$$ !!! They should either pay more for their health insurance or stop the unhealthy practices.

The guests ignore the obvious, it's not "what is everyone going to cost us" it's a common sense issue, smoking and people who are overweight cost us money, it's well understood. You don't decide to do nothing because you want to figure out how to make everyone pay their fair share, you want to stop rewarding bad behaviors that you understand now and making the rest of us pay for them. Let's try common sense please! It's often sorely missing in the modern day dialogue of our social and economic problems. Stop the political correctness and partisianship. We need weekly rallies to "Restore Sanity" :)

Dec. 01 2010 11:44 AM

Hey, thanks for the four-minute segments, Brian. Have you ever thought about going into cable? They do more in-depth commentary than you.

Dec. 01 2010 11:43 AM
Sonia from Manhattan

If we're making moral judgments about other people's health, then it's interesting that many people don't consider health care to be a right, so everyone doesn't have equal access to be healthy, or in these moral terms, to be "good."

Dec. 01 2010 11:40 AM
BK from NJ

When I see someone in their 30s or 40s and smoking, I certainly do judge them. They had all of the knowledge of how bad smoking is for them but they went ahead and started smoking anyway. They should be treated as second class citizens because they injure others with their secondhand smoke and ultimately cost society a ton of money. They have medical options to help them quit but don't take advantage.

Dec. 01 2010 11:40 AM

what about unsafe sex?

Dec. 01 2010 11:40 AM
Anna Purves

Does no one remember "Erewhon" by Samuel BUtler, from the last century, wherein no one in that dystopia could admit to ill health, but only to criminal behavior?

Dec. 01 2010 11:39 AM
Gene from NYC

From the book's amazon page:

"You see someone smoking a cigarette and say,“Smoking is bad for your health,” when what you mean is, “You are a bad person because you smoke.” You encounter someone whose body size you deem excessive, and say, “Obesity is bad for your health,” when what you mean is, “You are lazy, unsightly, or weak of will.” "

A LOT of assumptions here. There is no back-up for these arrant dicta whatsoever.

This strikes me as one of those books that makes up an issue so the authors can write a political screed.

Dec. 01 2010 11:39 AM
Joseph from Manhattan

These are interesting observations, but the judgments are actually, at their root, economic. The treatment for your lung cancer is paid for by others' insurance premiums.

Dec. 01 2010 11:39 AM
Mer Asthmatic from Weehawken

The morality of health has nothing to do with the problem of smoking.

It's gross, and now you can't walk the streets of NYC at 3:00 without being subjected to a haze of disgust. Recent studies confirm that passive smoking does cause cancer. If I eat to much I get fat, not you. That's the difference.

The morality of smoking has little to do with it. I don't really care if smoking is bad for your health. I'm more concerned when your smoking is bad for MY health.

Dec. 01 2010 11:39 AM
jmurphy from Long Island

Health and morality are at odds in this country, and will be as long as we keep treating healthcare like a luxury item: sure you can have it but only if you can afford it.

This in effect a moral statement that, as a society, we value the health, and therefore the lives, of those with insurance far more than those without.

Healthcare is not a luxury. Healthcare for all actually creates a more productive, capable workforce. By not paying for healthcare for all, we are actually cutting off our nose to spite our face.

Dec. 01 2010 11:07 AM

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