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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What Can Plato Teach Us About the Health Insurance Mandate?

By Nicholas J. Diamond
The Hastings Center: Bioethics Forum
Health Policy
Originally published on April 23, 2012

As any philosopher worth his or her salt can tell you, health insurance is not among the array of topics in Plato’s corpus. Even so, a lesson on citizenship from one of his more famous dialogues, “Crito,” can teach why the insurance mandate in the Affordable Care Act ought to make sense to us.

In “Crito,” Socrates, ever Plato’s central figure, explains why he ought to submit to the death sentence imposed on him by Athenian law, despite his friend Crito’s willingness to facilitate his escape. For Socrates, escape would be unjust because of the duty he has implicitly adopted in being an Athenian citizen.