Dentistry and distributive justice

Shafik Dharamsi, Michael I. MacEntee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

37 Scopus citations


There is a growing concern in most countries to address the problem of inequities in health-care within the context of financial restraints on the public purse and the realities of health professions that are influenced strongly by the economic priorities of free-market economies. Dental professionals, like other health professionals, are well aware that the public expects oral health-related services that are effective, accessible, available and affordable. Yet, there is remarkably little reference in the literature to the theories of distributive justice that might offer guidance on how an equitable oral health service could be achieved. This paper considers three prominent theories of distributive justice - libertarianism, egalitarianism and contractarianism - within the controversial context of basic care and quality of life. The discussion leads towards a socially responsible, egalitarian perspective on prevention augmented by a social contract for curative care with the aim of providing maximum benefit to the least advantaged in society.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-329
Number of pages7
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002


  • Basic care
  • Dentistry
  • Distributive justice
  • Health services
  • Quality of life
  • Social contracts


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