Health Care and the Ethics of Encounter: A Jewish Discussion of Social Justice / Edition 1

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The last several years have seen a sharpening of debate in the United States regarding the problem of steadily increasing medical expenditures, as well as inflation in health care costs, a scarcity of health care resources, and a lack of access for a growing number of people in the national health care system. Some observers suggest that we in fact face two crises: the crisis of scarce resources and the crisis of inadequate language in the discourse of ethics for framing a response.

Laurie Zoloth offers a bold claim: to renew our chances of achieving social justice, she argues, we must turn to the Jewish tradition. That tradition envisions an ethics of conversational encounter that is deeply social and profoundly public, as well as offering resources for recovering a language of community that addresses the issues raised by the health care allocation debate.

Constructing her argument around a careful analysis of selected classic and postmodern Jewish texts and a thoughtful examination of the Oregon health care reform plan, Zoloth encourages a radical rethinking of what has become familiar ground in debates on social justice.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
[Zoloth offers] a strongly knitted framework, calling upon a rich Jewish tradition, from which prominent policy-makers can benefit.


Zoloth has written a book that is clinically astute, politically relevant, and abundant in wisdom and grace.

Carl Elliott, Journal of the American Medical Association

The significance of Zoloth's book cannot be overestimated.

Stanley Hauerwas, Duke University

Journal of the American Medical Association
Zoloth has written a book that is clinically astute, politically relevant, and abundant in wisdom and grace.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780807848289
  • Publisher: The University of North Carolina Press
  • Publication date: 10/4/1999
  • Series: Studies in Social Medicine Series
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Laurie Zoloth is associate professor of social ethics and Jewish philosophy and chair of the program in Jewish studies at San Francisco State University. She is also co-founder of The Ethics Practice, a firm devoted to providing bioethics education and clinical consultation.

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Table of Contents

Foreword by Allan M. Brandt and Larry R. Churchill
Part I. A Crisis in Health Care and a Challenge in Ethics
Chapter 1. Language, Narrative, and Desire: What We Yearn For
Chapter 2. Oregon: A Conversation Once Entered
Chapter 3. The Embodied Discourse of Health Care: Oregon Reconsidered
Chapter 4. Naming the Terrain: The Language of Liberal Justice and Its Claims
Chapter 5. The Moral Location of the Self: The Languages of the Alternative Discourse
Part II. The Texts and the Method: Jewish Ethics as Encounter
Chapter 6. The Discourse Itself: Method, Text, and Covenant
Chapter 7. Limits, Language, and Tradition: Jewish Textual Sources, Casuistry, and the Details of the Discourse
Chapter 8. Developing the Common Language: The Book of Ruth
Conclusion: Community and Conscience: Public Choices and Private Acts

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