Ramsey vs. Fletcher
As a student at Southern Methodist University, I have acquired knowledge from requisite classes to not only better myself, but also for the betterment of my community. I feel, as apart of the human race, that we should continue to strive for an enhanced community by gaining information from other humans. However, in order for this greater sense of community to occur, we must realize there are morals to withstand. Socrates posed the question “have we learned how to teach virtue? ” I believe that it is a work in progress.
Although, ethics did not have a primary role in society until the mid twentieth century, I feel that we are making progress leaps and bounds to achieve this goal in a short amount of time. After reading ethicists Paul Ramsey and Joseph Fletcher’s words many questions were raised that would seem to have contradicting answers. Therefore, other ethicists and students are obligated to lean toward one side or the other. In Paul Ramsey’s preface to The Patient as Person, we get a clear depiction of where he stands on ethics today.
Ramsey says that it is important to keep the covenant between man and man and man and God. The covenant between man and man is that men need to have a kind of faithfulness to each other that is righteous (Pg. 53). For example, when you visit the doctor you, as a patient, have an obligation to trust the doctor. The doctor has an advantage because he/she has been educated in the field of medicine. . You have faith that the doctor will do what is right for the enhancement of your health. Sometimes doctors abuse that aspect of their profession and use it to better science.
James P. Scanlan uses the argument of finding the valuable truth and scientific knowledge which is morally impossible to obtain (Pg. 55). Ramsey responds by saying, “These are salutary warnings precisely because by them we are driven to make the most searching inquiry concerning more basic ethical principles governing medical practice. ” While becoming a doctor, one may feel as if they must constantly better the field of health using science. “Doctors”, Ramsey says, “Need to become moral philosophers” (Pg. 55).
If the doctors do not think morally, then medical ethics will slowly become scoured till there is nothing left. Granted, there are doctors and medical students who have looked at this situation from a moral perspective, but I believe, as does Ramsey, that doctors will get caught up in the “omnivorous appetite of scientific research. ” Patients can be seen as an experiment to get the means. This is idea of using patients just for an experiment is a scheme that goes against the sacredness of the body and soul. God gave us this body to use for Him.
As it says in 1 Corinthians 6:19 the body is the temple for the holy sprit. The scientists and doctors are not allowed, in my opinion, to break the sacredness of the body merely for the means of science. We can only begin to try to over come these problems by starting somewhere all Christian ethicists agree, which is the covenant that God has made with us. On the other hand, Joseph Fletcher’s perspective on how we should view the human life, contradicts the Christian faith. In his book Technological Devices in Medical Care, we can see that he will use whatever means necessary in order to better the human race.
I strongly disagree with his ideas and his opinion on how scientists should play God. Granted, we have all sinned against God and have bitten into the forbidden fruit of the tree of knowledge, but that does not give us a reason to pry ourselves into someone’s body and take advantage of them. As an ethicists, you do not have to find a way to gain knowledge and control over every situation. Fletcher says, “knowledge and control are the ingredients of both freedom and responsibility” (Pg. 278). Knowledge and control are what separate us from God.
The more we dive into things that make us look or feel like God, the more we seem to grasp onto that concept and nurture it until we think we have control over it. Then we give credit to ourselves like it was our idea, and never give credit where it is due, to the Lord. The Episcopalian priest says that we need to create a new God. He believes if you can bring better people in the world by tampering with genes, then we should do it. He even admits to playing God. It is people like Fletcher that God warns us about. 1 Samuel 15:19 says, “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.
Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you” Instead of asking God what to do with the knowledge that came from Him, we neglect to ask Him in fear of God saying no to our ideas. It is all about control and Fletcher wants nothing to do with what God has to say. I often wonder why ethicists never ask God what He wants them to do. Throughout all the perspectives I have read I have never heard about them taking time to ask God for His will to be done. They claim to be Christians, but then never include Him in on the decision-making. This is where the world has gone wrong.
We do not consult the master of life. Since he created life, I would think He would know what was best for it. Yet, we keep going back to the tree of knowledge, letting the snake tempt us into taking bites, which take us further and further from God’s will. Some ethicists are walking with blinders on doing the work of the wrong god, their own. Many ethicists have fallen into this temptation and have chosen to go against God’s moral of standards. As followers of faith we must draw the line so that we can keep God in the middle and our own interpretation out.