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© Society for Applied Philosophy, 2007. The central issue that I consider in this paper is the use of the so-called ‘Rule of Rescue’ in the context of resource allocation. This ‘Rule’ has played an important role in resource allocation decisions in various parts of the world. It was invoked in Ontario to overturn a decision not to fund treatment for Gaucher’s Disease and it has also been used to justify resource decisions in Israel concerning the same condition. In the paper I consider the nature of the Rule of Rescue and its moral justification. The latter involves consideration of the distinction between agent-relative and agent-neutral obligations. If the Rule of Rescue is to be justified, it is plausible to think that it will be in the context of agent-relative obligations. Two problems with this suggestion are considered: the role of identifiability in the Rule of Rescue and the extent to which policy makers in a health care system can be taken to have such obligations. It is argued that in both cases these problems can be overcome and hence that there is a prima facie obligation to follow the Rule of Rescue.

Original publication




Journal article


Journal of Applied Philosophy

Publication Date





352 - 366