This article discusses the utilitarian principle of triage in the context of governmental response to national disasters, while analyzing the delicate balance between individual liberties and the government actions necessary to promote the common good. The author examines competing conceptions of the common good, and posits that a new philosophy is required for public health emergencies in order to promote balanced and normative standards of conduct necessary for consensus-based decision-making in times of national emergency. The author then demonstrates that the principal of medical triage is a valid construct for the distribution of scarce resources during national emergencies, tests this construct by applying it to model legislative proposals, and finds that distributive justice can be achieved during national emergencies by incorporating the triage principle into federal policy-making instruments and state legislative proposals.

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