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Distributive justice is the branch of theories of justice that is concerned with the distribution of available resources among claimants. Theories of distributive justice all accept the central claim of formal justice that “equal claims should be handled equally” but differ in terms of what features they accept as relevant to the judgment of equality in claims and in outcomes. Considerations of distributive justice in health and healthcare are important because being healthy is a prerequisite for full or equal participation in a whole range of social activities, from employment to politics.

Within healthcare, considerations of distributive justice are especially important in the context of priority setting or rationing of healthcare services. This raises specific problems because one of the main outcomes of interest, namely, health, ...

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