This paper discusses the ethical implications of different mechanisms used by social agencies to ration scarce social services. Mechanisms such as "queing," "creaming," and "triage" are discussed from the perspective of two theories of social justice; i.e., John S. Mill and John Rawls. The purpose of the paper is to encourage more explicit examination of the assumptions that underlie the distribution of social services. It is the authors' contention that the present decision making process is almost entirely based on intuition, political expedience, and tradition, and that systematic ethical analysis would give stronger justification to rationing decisions.

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