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July 17, 1991

Decision Analysis: Society and Individuals-Reply

Author Affiliations

Duke University Durham. NC

Duke University Durham. NC

JAMA. 1991;266(3):364. doi:10.1001/jama.1991.03470030063024

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In Reply.  — Morgan and Yaes both make good points. Morgan has identified an error in my editing and has interpreted my intentions correctly. Yaes correctly points out that each of us has different needs depending on whether we are acting as individuals or as members of society. The sentence he quotes was intended to set up precisely that paradox.As a literal statement, it is true that "society is nothing more than a collection of individuals." On the surface, this seems to imply that the interests of society and individuals should be identical. However, as Yaes states and as I described in the remainder of my article, the interests and responsibilities of individuals change when they are viewed as members of society. In the context of health care, our health is determined by two factors: what we can gain for ourselves if we act selfishly, without regard for the