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Why the fair innings argument is not persuasive

Overview of attention for article published in BMC Medical Ethics, December 2000
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About this Attention Score

  • In the top 25% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (93rd percentile)

Mentioned by

1 news outlet
2 policy sources
11 tweeters
1 Facebook page


19 Dimensions

Readers on

38 Mendeley
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Why the fair innings argument is not persuasive
Published in
BMC Medical Ethics, December 2000
DOI 10.1186/1472-6939-1-1
Pubmed ID

Michael M Rivlin


The fair innings argument (FIA) is frequently put forward as a justification for denying elderly patients treatment when they are in competition with younger patients and resources are scarce. In this paper I will examine some arguments that are used to support the FIA. My conclusion will be that they do not stand up to scrutiny and therefore, the FIA should not be used to justify the denial of treatment to elderly patients, or to support rationing of health care by age. There are six issues arising out of the FIA which are to be addressed. First, the implication that there is such a thing as a fair share of life. Second, whether it makes sense to talk of a fair share of resources in the context of health care and the FIA. Third, that 'fairness' is usually only mentioned with regard to the length of a person's life, and not to any other aspect of it. Fourth, if it is sensible to discuss the merits of the FIA without taking account of the 'all other things being equal' argument. Fifth, the difference between what is unfair and what is unfortunate. Finally, that it is tragic if a young person dies, but only unfortunate if an elderly person does.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 11 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 38 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Italy 1 3%
Unknown 37 97%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Bachelor 10 26%
Student > Master 6 16%
Researcher 5 13%
Student > Ph. D. Student 4 11%
Student > Postgraduate 3 8%
Other 5 13%
Unknown 5 13%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Medicine and Dentistry 15 39%
Philosophy 5 13%
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 4 11%
Psychology 3 8%
Social Sciences 3 8%
Other 2 5%
Unknown 6 16%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 26. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 13 July 2020.
All research outputs
of 15,612,060 outputs
Outputs from BMC Medical Ethics
of 686 outputs
Outputs of similar age
of 242,212 outputs
Outputs of similar age from BMC Medical Ethics
of 1 outputs
Altmetric has tracked 15,612,060 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 94th percentile: it's in the top 10% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 686 research outputs from this source. They typically receive a lot more attention than average, with a mean Attention Score of 14.6. This one has done well, scoring higher than 89% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 242,212 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 93% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 1 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has scored higher than all of them