M. Girard Dorsey
Health and Freedom in the Balance: Exploring the Tensions among Public Health, Individual Liberty, and Governmental Authority
edited by M. Girard Dorsey and Rosemary M. Caron
Public Health in the 21st Century Series
Nova Science Publishers, Inc. (July 2017)
The clash between individual liberties and the protection of the greater population is an ongoing conflict between core principles held dear by Americans for centuries. One of the nexus points occurs in the application of public health measures by governmental authorities to defeat deadly germs, perhaps on an epidemic scale, in ways that can erode individual decisions about healthcare, privacy, bodily integrity and personal liberty in the name of the greater good of community health. People may approve and appreciate protective measures enacted by the government when influenza breaks out or when there is a food recall, but may also feel wary simultaneously. How has this conflict played out throughout history and how has this clash progressed today? What benefits do individuals reap and what costs do they pay for the application of public health? Almost every individual will find himself or herself engaged with public health measures of some kind on an individual, familial or community level, so we should all be aware of the issues involved.
Because of these parallels between historical and current exercises of public health, the authors wrote this textbook, which was inspired by a renowned lecture series created by Saul O. Sidore. The Sidore lecture series was established in 1965 in memory of Saul O. Sidore of Manchester, New Hampshire, and it is sponsored by the Center for the Humanities at the University of New Hampshire. Mr. Sidore was a humanitarian, a businessman, and president of the Brookshire Mills and Pandora Industries in Manchester. He was a progressive employer and the lecture series named in his honor addresses critical issues in politics, society and culture.
The theme for the 2013-2014 lecture series was Your Liberty or Your Health: Exploring the Tensions among Public Health, Individual Liberty and Governmental Authority. As editors of this textbook – a collection of case studies and class exercises – the authors believe that this topic and structure will be of academic interest to those in justice studies, history and health and human services, just to name a few of the programs in an academic community. The universal applicability of the issues discussed herein will make this text relevant to those outside of these programs and communities as well. Finally, this book will encourage conversations across campuses and organizations and between groups that do not always have an opportunity to interact, enabling future readers to engage in debates about the tensions between individual rights, governmental authority and public health needs.