The Crashed Motorcyclist

In an Ethics class my professor sometimes made judgement calls that I found to be quite particular.  I didn’t challange him because he was so determined when he said what he said, and I didn’t feel like having an argument with him in front of the whole class.

A motorcyclist crashes in the middle of nowhere, and is rushed to the ER.  At the ER they are able to treat his wounds, and he is expected to have no long lasting injuries.  However, there are five patients in the hospital who are going to die soon if they are not given organ transplants.  The doctors have to make a choice of whether they are going to take this one motorcyclist’s life in order to save the five patients.

We are going to assume:

*The motorcyclist does not consent

*The nurses/doctor are not going to be caught and will face no legal action if they perform this task

*To make the choice “tougher” you can place those five people as upstanding citizens such as doctors, lawyers, police men, ect.

*The motorcyclist is a lone ranger, and no one will notice his leaving

My teacher stated that because the motorcyclist does not consent, that we know that this is not the right choice to make, and therefore would be immoral.

I feel as though this choice was made on gut feelings, and that it does not take enough logic into account.  Gut feelings are ones that involve rushed impulses, and when dealing with lives it is a requirement to think about more than just your first instinct.

*By taking away a life to give to another you would be breaking the trust of the doctor.  Losing the trust is worse than losing three lives.  It would prevent people from going to the doctor for treatment.  The trust would be lost, and emotions/ect ensued.  -// An argument of this type needs to remember the assumption that no one would ever find out, and the motorcyclist would not be missed.  Therefore, no one can lose trust in the doctor. (Similar to how someone can love a serial killer if they don’t know he is running around killing people.)

My line drawn at three lives.  Here’s why:

*One life would be simply trading, and the motorcyclist is allowed to live like the doctor or whoever else, and therefore their lives would be considered equal.  It’s not enough to relocate rescources.

*Two lives is similar.  The doctors would be saving two lives at the cost of one.  Taking away consent, and basically stealing the man’s life from him raises what his life is worth- to me at least.  Two lives would be a tough call, and if they have families that would miss them it might be worth considering.  One of those not really sure it’s worth it, but you’d do it anyway type of things.

Five lives?  Well, if we as a culture did agree to something along these lines people would scared to death of going to the hospital and some rich guy trying to buy off the doctors to save them black-market style.

And now I’m lost in thought and talking to myself again.  If anyone bothers to read this feel free to answer: would you give up your life if you were going to save five?


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