Should We Prioritize Younger Patients?: The Fair Innings View in Pandemic Ethics

Sachiko Yasuda
Volume 6 Issue 1 Pages 29-44
First Published: October 20, 2023
[in Japanese]



In this paper, I examine whether age criteria should be used as a standard for allocating healthcare resources under pandemic circumstances. Some philosophers support the fair innings view, which prioritizes younger individuals, while others maintain that excluding older people based on age would be discriminatory. I delve into the question of whether the fair innings view can be justified under several leading theories: the headcount view, the “save the most life-years” principle, and the lifetime view. I clarify that the fair innings view based on the headcount view or the “save the most life-years” principle cannot always justify the prioritization of younger individuals. The prudential life-span account supports prioritizing younger individuals by assuming that everyone ages. However, I argue that during the pandemic, we should not always favor the benefits of being young, if we cannot expect that all people will age. I highlight the significance of considering the notion of “separability of time” in the context of a pandemic. However, I ultimately conclude that the fair innings view, grounded in the lifetime view, can be deemed acceptable if a significant majority of individuals survive.


Key words

Allocation of Health Resources, Fair Innings, Prudential Life-Span View, Equality of Time, Ethics of Pandemics