Try to understand how Kantian ethics and utilitarianism fit into the ethical cases the reading discusses. Explain how these approaches differ.
In the first case, where the patient requests to discontinue his Lithium medication to resume a state of mild psychosis, the utilitarian approach would focus on the consequences of the patient’s decision and would it promote overall happiness. Initially, the utilitarian would argue in forcing the patient to take medication as returning to a mild psychosis may cause harm to self or others. In contrast, forcing someone to take medications with potentially life-long adverse effects could also be counterintuitive. Utilitarian emphasizes overall happiness. The patient reported complying with his Lithium regimen made him feel bored and he expressed a wish to return to his “prior state”. The patient found a sense of happiness and comfort in his manic state and absent of any deleterious effects he should be able to return.
One may argue that it is better to live with the consequences of having made a bad decision than to lose your right to make a good one. However, if we apply Kantian’s right to autonomy, the patient have the right to refuse treatment and return to a manic-induced state of incompetence so as long as he does not transgress upon others’ liberties. Kantian’s principle may also argue that the patient should be forced to comply with his medical regimen out of respect for self and others.
In our next case review, a Korean patient presented with a paradoxical stance of opposing further medical treatment, but requesting full medical intervention in the event of cardiac arrest. Based upon the Kantian rule of autonomy, the patient’s right to refuse treatment should be respected and withheld even if such request causes the patient to die, as Kantian ethics does not focus on consequences. A utilitarian may employ the principle of beneficence and feel once the patient is admitted and becomes incapacitated the hospital has a duty...