University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

What’s Wrong with Tombstoning and What Does This Tell Us About Responsibility for Health?

Snelling, Paul ORCID: (2014) What’s Wrong with Tombstoning and What Does This Tell Us About Responsibility for Health? Public Health Ethics, 7 (2). pp. 144-157. ISSN Print 1754-9973 Online 1754-9981

What's wrong with tombstoning.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (333kB) | Preview


Using tombstoning (jumping from a height into water) as an example, this article claims that public health policies and health promotion tend to assess the moral status of activities following a version of health maximizing rule utilitarianism, but this does not represent common moral experience, not least because it fails to take into account the enjoyment that various health effecting habits brings and the contribution that this makes to a good life, variously defined. It is proposed that the moral status of health threatening activities should instead be defined by a version of act utilitarianism where both maximizing value and method of calculation are decided by individuals. In this account personal responsibility for health is reduced to the obligation to undertake calculations effectively, comprising of two duties; epistemic and reflective. If there is an individual epistemic duty, it is plausible to suggest that health promotion should present information in a way which facilitates it, but despite the prevalent language of autonomous choice, discussion of health promotion messages, for example, related to drinking and smoking demonstrates that this currently does not happen. Health promotion strategies should seek to encourage reflection about the harm our health effecting behaviour causes others.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

Staff and students at the University of Worcester can access the full-text of the online published article via the online Library Search. External users should check availability with their local library or Interlibrary Requests Service.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: tombstoning, responsibility for health, health promotion, Utilitarianism, public health
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Divisions: College of Health, Life and Environmental Sciences > School of Nursing and Midwifery
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Paul Snelling
Date Deposited: 15 Apr 2014 10:32
Last Modified: 01 Jul 2020 10:51

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item
Worcester Research and Publications is powered by EPrints 3 which is developed by the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. More information and software credits.