Arguing for a value of place in bioethics

Fiona McDonald1,2, Christy Simpson2,1,

1 Australian Centre for Health Law Research, Queensland University of Technology, C Block, Gardens Point Campus, GPO Box 2434 Brisbane Queensland 4001
2 Department of Bioethics, Dalhousie University 5849 University Avenue, Room C-315, CRC Bldg, PO Box 15000 Halifax, NS  B3H 4R2, Canada

We argue in this presentation for a value of place in health ethics.  That is to say we argue that ethicists should acknowledge that people may feel connected to and identify with a particular place. When we use the term place we are referring to: geography; an emotional connection to land, a particular location or a feature of a landscape; a sense of belonging associated with that place; and a sense of identity arising from that place. This identification with place has implications epistemologically and in terms of a person’s standpoint – what we know is fundamentally influenced by where we come from. We believe place ought to be considered a specific value to give it the necessary weight in ethical deliberations in health care settings at the micro, meso and macro levels of service delivery.  We argue that the value of place is particularly relevant for rural residents as it may influence their health care choices, impact on access to health care, and their experience of receiving care.


Dr Fiona McDonald is a Senior Lecturer at the Australian Centre for Health Law Research at the Queensland University of Technology and an Adjunct Associate Professor at the Department of Bioethics, Dalhousie University, Canada. She is a co-editor of Health Law In Australia (Thomson 2014), Health Workforce Governance (Ashgate 2012) and a co-author of Ethics, Law and Health Care (Palgrave 2014). Interested in regulation and healthcare, her research interests currently focus on the governance of health systems, including health professionals, health facilities and health technologies, and rural bioethics.

About the Association

The Australasian Association of Bioethics and Health Law (AABHL) was formed in 2009.

It encourages open discussion and debate on a range of bioethical issues, providing a place where people can ask difficult questions about ideas and practices associated with health and illness, biomedical research and human values.

The AABHL seeks to foster a distinctive Australasian voice in bioethics, and provide opportunities for international engagement through its membership, journal and conferences.

Members come from all the contributing humanities, social science and science disciplines that make up contemporary bioethics.

Many members have cross-disciplinary interests and all seek to broaden the dialogues in which all members of the wider community ultimately have an interest.

The AABHL is a supportive, creative and challenging community that provides a rich source of continuing academic refreshment and renewal.

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