In this analytical paper I’ll be analyzing a scenario about a five year old girl who is in renal failure and is in need of a kidney transplant. In this the father is the only one compatible with her, but he does not want to donate his kidney to save her life. The scenario will be analyzed through the deontological/Kantian and the consequentialist/utilitarian viewpoints in ethical decision making. It’ll also be analyzed by deciding which perspective would be relevant and a discussion of what I as a doctor would do following the ethical view point of my choice.
The deontological/Kantian ethical-decision making philosophy was created by the philosopher Kant. His view on ethical-decision making is about how we morally commit an act or decide on something in the sense of obligation. Kant indicates that ethics is about acting upon our own duty, essentially doing what we ought to do. This philosophy is solely about duty. For example, one can say that “I ought to do my homework”, in this case it would be my duty do my homework in order to get a good grade. Another proposition is, following a maxim when it comes to acting on an action out of oughtness. This maxim one may have is like a policy that one will follow by, when a particular situation or event arises.
Kant also describes his philosophy of duty through hypothetical/categorical imperatives or commands. A duty not only can be done through an action but also though language such as commanding something. For Kant, ethics is in simple terms, following rules. These rules would then become obligations that we follow by but through an expression in language.
Utilitarianism, is the theory that the right action is the action that most people will benefit from. Through the view of John Stuart Mill, an action that is right will promote the greatest happiness. Therefore the right action is an action that will maximize the good to a greater number of people. The consequentialist moral theory indicates that an action will be right depending on what are the consequences. Therefore if an action is presumed to be right, then under the utilitarian theory it is the right action that will benefit most people.
Though utilitarianism is looking out to benefit the majority that are involved, there are still criticism that arise among this theory as stated my Mill. Since in this theory we want to benefit the majority, it sometimes seems to overlook issues dealing with justice. Such as, a person’s right can be stripped away due to the consequences that by committing that act it’ll give the majority involved a greater sense of happiness. Another criticism involved is the criticism that personal honor is violated by acclaiming action that’ll go against one’s own values.
The scenario given has a situation that is between life and deaf. The girl is in need of a kidney transplant as her renal dialysis isn’t work anymore for her. Luckily her father is histocompatible. The doctor discusses with him about his daughter’s condition and the uncertainties in her health. Though the father does understand that his daughter’s health is depleting he rejects in donating his kidney. He’s well aware of what could happen with his daughter without the transplant but she just doesn’t have the courage to do it.
In the deontological perspective, the father’s decision of not donating his kidney to improve and save his daughter’s life would be considered intrinsically wrong. It would be wrong because as a father, it would be his duty to care for his child in a time of need. The father has an obligation to do whatever possible to keep their child happy and safe. By not donating his kidney, it would be as though he is contributing to the death of his daughter. The family would completely disagree with his decision, believing that the act he committed is wrong.
Though the father’s actions can be sought out to be intrinsically wrong, in his view his actions are right. He uses the deontological theory as he believes that his action of not donating his kidney to his daughter is an obligation that he has. The father felt that his duty/obligation to his daughter was to stop the suffering that she has had.
In the consequentialist perspective, the decision that the father made would not be promoting the greatest happiness possible. Not only will the daughter be affected, but also other family members that will suffer along with the five year old. It would seem that no one would benefit from his decision as people will be blaming him and the child would continue to suffer. Though the father’s action may seem that way, utilitarianism played a role in influencing him on his decision.
The decision in the situation can be recognized as being a wrong act to commit, but it can be seen through another perspective by the father. The father’s decision may have risen due to believing that his action was morally right in the situation. It could be that by deciding not to do the kidney transplant he would be making the rest of his family happy because they would no longer have to see his daughter suffering.
Again, the father understands that the consequence of not donating his kidney. His decision falls within the criticism that utilitarianism has. By not giving his kidney to his daughter, it could seem as though he’s taking her rights away of living a better life to benefit more people in the long run. It seems as though the father is keeping in mind the rest of the family. It could be probable that his fear of the surgery, affected his thinking that something may happen to kip while in surgery. He could keep in mind if something happens to him it could be a detrimental situation for the family including his daughter. By not going into surgery, he is benefiting the rest of the family
As a physician, I would choose the utilitarian approach. Though as a physician I could also go in the direction of a deontological perspective because the obligation of a physician is to advice his/her patients and to treat them. A physician is not to make personal decisions for someone else. Through the utilitarian perspective, as a physician I would encourage the dad to donate his kidney to save his daughter’s life. Encouraging the dad about the transplant would bring the greater good to all the family.
In the scenario it tells us that the father doesn’t want to tell the rest of his family about his decision because it could hurt the family. He wants the physician to tell his family the truth. As a doctor I would push the father to do the surgery as it’s important to save his daughter’s life.