Opinions on Healthcare from a Philosopher

The assignment was to create three questions regarding healthcare then find someone you don’t know to answer these questions.

I interviewed Philosophy professor Shane Gronholz; I take Shane’s Philo 1001 class, but I’ve never been to his office hours or had a conversation outside of class. In my mind I really didn’t know him all to well except for the lessons in philosophy.

Prior to the interview I learned Shane was still in graduate school getting his Ph.D in Philosphy, and has been teaching for three years at Cu Boulder.

VG: Should all Americans have the right to healhcare?

SG: Okay so as a philosopher, the first thing I want to do is draw a distinction between a legal right and a moral right. So….I think for the moral question it’s a very difficult question – If someone is just born with a right to healthcare. I am actually inclined to be pretty skeptical of that claim because I don’t really know what ground such a right or where that comes from. And well also I’m actually pretty suspicious of rights anyway. Rights aren’t my favorite thing to talk about and sometimes I’m like I don’t even think there are such a thing as rights. But obviously there are legal rights and I do think we should all have a right to healthcare…I’m talking as a philosopher. Even if I don’t think there is any such thing as a moral right I think it’s good… I’ll just say I’m for single payer and universal healthcare.

VG: Healthcare has been seen by some as a socialist practice grouped along with food stamps, welfare, and housing subsidies. Do you think it would disrupt economic productivity because of offering free healthcare? Care to elaborate?

SG: No. I guess some people might say like well if some people don’t need their job to have healthcare maybe they’d quit. But there is also a good component about that if people are only staying at there job for that reason then there are bad things associated with that. So for the most part no, but this is an empirical question to some degree but has there been disruption? The things that I read mainly say no, but there are people who get upset, but I don’t know if its harm to the economy so far and I don’t have any reason to think it.

VG: The Affordable Care Act it taxes higher income such as individuals who make over $200,000, families who make over $250,000, and big business that make over $250,000. Do you think this is justified?

SG: Yeah…so…yes I do I think it is justified and I am in favor of it. I am not a full blown consequentialist to use terms from class but I lean heavily towards that way. The argument to that is supposed to be you know you’re just basically taking money away form us to help other people and if we want to donate to a charity then fine, but you’re basically saying you have to give me money to care for these other people. And so some people think there is something wrong with that but I just don’t really care about that. If you have a lot of money…I mean (sigh) yeah the consequences are just so much better if we do that. Yeah they’ll have a little bit less money but the good that can be done. Are there rights being violated in some way? I guess but not in a way that I care about that much.

VG: That’s very utilitarianist.
SG: Yeah yeah so I’m not a utilitarian but in my the majority of cases the utilitarian answer is the best one.

VG: Even in the case that you made $300,000 and you were taxed you would be fine with that?
SG: Yeah I would be fine with it….in fact well this again goes back to like I think if you’re a good utilitarian it might be hard in a lot of those cases to make those sacrifices. So what would be the best is if we just vote for utilitarian policies ’cause then it kind of compels you to do it, and it makes sure everybody else does it. So it makes sure nobody is having to do more than they should. I’m sounding like a better person than I am, but I am always in favor of higher taxes for better social programs even if I am made worse off.

VG: Even if it is imposed on lower income and middle income families?
SG: Well because of diminishing margin utility like the more you have the less it hurts you when it’s taken away.  So I do think it does matter…so that’s why I think it makes perfect sense like to have higher taxes on the rich; because they’re gonna miss it less. If it was taxes on the middle class…at this point it would be cost benefit analysis. On one hand, I would be taxed higher but then it would be making up for money that I would already be losing through my paycheck if that is going to healthcare or if I am on private insurance plan. Even if I am taxed more as a middle class person….this is really making it simple economically if it turns out that yeah I am taxed higher, but now I get free healthcare especially if it’s like single payer then that would be just a wash or I might just benefit from that.





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