Answer to Question #159298 in Philosophy for Sara Faisal

Question #159298

Please solve the following ethical dilemmas, explain your answer, and mention the ethical theory you have used to solve it. (5 marks) 


(Note: These are the kind of decisions exhausted, terrified and sleep-deprived healthcare workers in Italy fighting COVID-19 have to make, with little or no training in ethical decision-making. Please advise them using your training in ethical decision making.)

1.​Consider the now-not-so-hypothetical situation created by COVID-19 pandemic in which there are two patients, an 80-year-old and a 40-year-old, both needing the machine to breathe. (100-150 words)

2.​How about a 60-year-old who is a major donor to the hospital, or a 30-year-old fruit vendor who pushes his cart in the streets all day long? (100-150 words) 

3.​What if a 65-year-old professor has a better shot at quality life for the next decade if he survives, versus a 35-year-old man with colonic cancer with an unknown outcome? (100-150 words)


b- It is possible to develop biological weapons in the laboratory. These weapons can target people carrying certain genes and mutate more rapidly in response to medicines. (5- marks)


Question: In such a scenario, will you choose to get genetically edited using CRISPR to protect yourself, or you will choose to accept this onslaught? Explain your decision.

Expert's answer

Case One

In this case, there is a need to embrace the ethical theory of fairness. The theory maintains that when there are differences in treatment, those variances should be based on a suitable diversity between groups of people. Between an 80-year-old and a 40-year-old, the 80-year old patient should be given the machine to breathe. Since the 80-year old patient is vulnerable to other opportunistic diseases. Such diseases have weakened the body’s immunity. Therefore, the 80-year old patient would die if not supported by a machine for breathing. On the other, hand the 40-year old patient can survive since the individual is not vulnerable. 

Case Two

In this case, I can apply both Moral Egoism and Moral Virtue Theory. Both theories advocate for goods actions and behaviors since consequences based on good actions and behaviors are rewardable. Based on these two theories, I can decide to save the life of the 60-year-old patient. The motive is out of individual responsibility and past good relationship with the patient who now needs help. It should be noted that the patient has been donating massively and saving lives in the hospital. Therefore, helping the 60-year-old patient will be a tribute to the good work done of donating to save many lives within the hospital.

Case Three

In this case, I utilize the application of Moral Theory. Moral Theory upholds empirical evidence explaining why certain actions are wrong or correct. It provides the basis upon which we rationalize and debate logically, and so assess, particular moral issues. The 65-year-old professor with a shot needs to be helped to save his life. Since the end-results are well known compared to the 35-year-old man with colonic cancer whose outcomes are not known. Therefore, it is the moral duty of the doctor to help the 65-year-old professor. 

Question b

The gene-editing technique CRISPR has been to the attention of scientists who stated they had used it to safely eliminate the disease in human embryos for the first time. I will choose to accept this onslaught since the technique allows experts to cut and paste DNA more easily than in the past. However, rational biological safety procedures need to be stipulated down to address the hostile potential of CRISPR. 

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