This essay explores the effects of morality on health policy. Moral images and stereotypes, I argue, have powerful political consequences. They are the difference between fighting poverty and fearing the poor, between expanding social welfare programs and cracking down on crime, between public health campaigns and drug wars. I begin by locating morality within traditional paradigms of American politics (which are designed to overlook the issue); I then suggest how moral stigmas are constructed; show how they are deployed in debates over public health issues, such as alcohol abuse and drug addiction; and briefly sketch an alternative approach to defining community and seeking public health.

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