Date of Award

Summer 8-13-2013

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Andrew Altman

Second Advisor

Dr. Andrew I. Cohen

Third Advisor

Dr. Andrew J. Cohen


Thomas Pogge proposes the Health Impact Fund (HIF) as a realistic, feasible reform to the pharmaceutical patent regime that would incentivize pharmaceutical research and reward innovation for medicines based on their impact on the global burden of disease. Pogge advances a human rights-based argument to show that the HIF is a morally required addition to the current pharmaceutical patent regime. One objection to his human rights argument comes from a libertarian appeal to property rights. Pogge’s response to the libertarian leads to the counterintuitive conclusion that libertarianism is incompatible with any system of intellectual property rights. This paper will show how Pogge fails to distinguish between what I call status quo and revisionist libertarian positions on intellectual property. Making this distinction, I maintain, would strengthen the human rights argument and allow Pogge to avoid the counterintuitive conclusion of his response to the libertarian.