King's College London

Research portal

The “We” in the “Me”: Solidarity and health care in the era of personalized medicine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-44
Number of pages24
JournalScience, Technology and Human Values
Issue number1
Early online date19 Oct 2017
Accepted/In press15 Sep 2017
E-pub ahead of print19 Oct 2017
Published1 Jan 2018


King's Authors


This article challenges a key tacit assumption underpinning legal and ethical instruments in health care, namely, that people are ideally bounded, independent, and often also strategically rational individuals. Such an understanding of personhood has been criticized within feminist and other critical scholarship as being unfit to capture the deeply relational nature of human beings. In the field of medicine, however, it also causes tangible problems. I propose that a solidarity-based perspective entails a relational approach and as such helps to formulate new solutions to complex ethical and regulatory questions, ranging from caring for people at the end of their lives to improving policies for organ donation and better governance of health data. It also underscores the importance of universal health care. Although a solidarity-based perspective does not require health to be seen as an individually enforceable right, it does influence our understanding of individual rights: it draws attention to how their meaning is shaped by shared social practices. I conclude by arguing that, in light of current pressures for medicine to become more personalized, using a relational understanding of personhood to shape policies and practices is a much needed endeavor.

Download statistics

No data available

View graph of relations

© 2020 King's College London | Strand | London WC2R 2LS | England | United Kingdom | Tel +44 (0)20 7836 5454