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What Is Morality? - Argumentation

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Justin Litaker

on 19 January 2017

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Transcript of What Is Morality? - Argumentation

Case 1: Baby Theresa
Florida1992, anencephalic (without a brain-no cerebrum or cerebellum, but does have a brain-stem, so autonomic functions like breathing and heartbeat go on)
Most detected and aborted
Of those not aborted, ½ are still born
300 a year born and usually die in few days
Can know these babies not live long and that they will have no conscious life
Parents volunteered her (and doctors agreed) for organ transplants (kidneys, liver, heart, lungs and eyes) for other children who would benefit from it (2000 need transplants a year, never enough available)
Florida law prohibits removal of organs until donor is dead
Taking organs out would kill her
When Teresa died after 9 days, her organs had deteriorated and were worthless

The Benefits Argument
1. If we can benefit someone, without harming anyone else, we ought to do so.
2. Transplanting the organs would benefit the other children without harming Baby Theresa.
Therefore, we ought to transplant the organs.

The Death is a Harm Argument
1. In all cases, causing the death of a person harms that person.
2. Transplanting the organs would cause the death of Baby Theresa.
Therefore, transplanting the organs would harm Baby Theresa.

The “It’s Wrong to Kill” Argument
1. It is wrong to kill one person to save another.
2. Taking Theresa’s organs would be killing one person (Theresa) to save others.
Therefore, taking the organs would be wrong.

The No Harm Done Argument
1. To harm someone is to take away something that benefits them.
2. Being alive is a benefit only if it enables you to have thoughts, feelings, and other things of value.
3. Baby Theresa was incapable of having thoughts, feelings, and other things of value.
4. Therefore, Baby Theresa would not benefit from prolonged life. (from 2 and 3)
Therefore, ending her life would not harm her.

The Don’t Use People Argument
1. It is always wrong to use people as mere means to other people’s ends.
2. Baby Theresa is (was) a person.
3. Taking Theresa’s organs would be using her as a mere means to benefit the other children.
Therefore, it would be wrong to take Theresa’s organs.

The Not a Person Argument
1. All persons have minds (in other words, if something does not have a mind, then it is not a person).
2. All things with minds are capable of conscious mental activity (thoughts, feelings, etc.)
3. Baby Theresa is not capable of having conscious mental activity.
4. Therefore, Baby Theresa does not have a mind. (from 2 and 3)
Baby Theresa is not a person. (from 1 and 4)
Full transcript