Responding to the Tragedies of Our Time - The Human Right to Health and the Virtue of Creative Resolve


  • Nicole Hassoun



We live in tragic times. Millions are sheltering in place to avoid exacerbating the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. How should we respond to such tragedies? This paper argues that the human right to health can help us do so because it inspires human rights advocates, claimants, and those with responsibility for fulfilling the right to try hard to satisfy its claims. That is, the right should, and often does, give rise to what I call the virtue of creative resolve. This resolve embodies a fundamental commitment to finding creative solutions to what appear to be tragic dilemmas. Contra critics, we should not reject the right even if it cannot tell us how to ration scarce health resources. Rather, the right gives us a response to apparent tragedy in motivating us to search for ways of fulfilling everyone’s basic health needs.