A Right To Health? (O’Donovan, 2010)

A Right To Health? (O’Donovan, 2010)

If we refer to it as a slogan, that need not be in a pejorative sense.   It means simply that “the right to health” does useful duty as a shorthand reference.   A cluster of concerns are summed up compactly;  it gestures out towards a whole line of argument remaining to be traced.   If we discuss “the right to health” as a slogan, we do not discuss anything we are actually doing or proposing to do.   We do not discuss redistributing resources or maximising choice.   We discuss how we think and speak about what we are doing and proposing to do – though since the “how” has an effect upon the “what”, our discussion may be of practical importance, not merely a philosophical indulgence.   A slogan is a tool of communication, and the question we may put to it is what and how it communicates.   A slogan, too, is intended to communicate with some immediacy, catching the attention of those who might not be attending.   It therefore tends to be artful, and with the art goes an element of simulation and dissimulation, one thing highlighted, another left in the background.   A feature of the slogan’s art is a shocking impudence.   A small explosion of nonsense at our elbow startles us into attention and makes us lift our heads to scan the horizon.

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