August 2025: Existential Health Care Ethics

The American Medical Association declares that physicians will address “natural and man-made assaults on the health and wellbeing of humankind,” and that “[h]umanity is our patient.”3 The World Medical Association likewise pledges physicians “to the service of humanity.”4 This theme issue considers that, if these are to be more than mere assertions, we must think more powerfully than we have in the past about what continued human existence requires of global and domestic health care. As an emerging area of moral philosophical inquiry concerned with human extinction, existential health care ethics considers the nature and scope of what health professionals and health professions are obliged to do—as individuals and collectives—to orient us to threats that undermine humanity’s survival. Such threats include familiar ones like critical resource depletion and weapons of mass destruction proliferation and less familiar ones like planetary-scale anthropogenic disequilibrium of Earth systems and dual (military and civilian) use technology applications.

Manuscripts submitted for peer review consideration and inclusion in this issue must follow Instructions for Authors and be submitted by 30 September 2024.