Tom and Mary
Mary is a patient in a hospital who is very sick. She is under the care of a doctor named Tom. Tom knows that Mary is going to die shortly and knows of three other patients in the hospital that could benefit immensely from one of Mary’s organs. Mary, who is an organ donor, does not want to give up her organs. However, Tom knows that Mary’s organs are beginning to fail and decides to take them without her permission and give them to the other patients in need. In this essay, I will explain how the case of Dr. Tom and his patient, Mary, can be examined morally using John Stuart Mill’s theory of Utilitarianism and the Greatest Happiness Principle (GHP) and Immanuel Kant’s Deontology and his Formula of Universal Law (FUL). I will also explain why Kantian Deontology works better as a moral theory in the case of Tom and Mary.
In John Stuart Mill’s, “Utilitarianism,” Mill describes his theory as, “… not something to be contradistinguished from pleasure, but pleasure itself, together with the exemption of pain (2001, p. 9).” What Mill is describing can be referred to as classical utilitarianism. There are three components that comprise this theory: consequentialism, hedonism, and impartiality. Consequentialism is the idea that only the consequences of an action matter. The second component, hedonism, states that the only standard for judging an action as moral or immoral is whether the action produced happiness or pain, respectively. The last component of classical utilitarianism is impartiality, which is the notion that no person’s happiness is to be regarded higher than another’s. These three elements of classical utilitarianism work together to describe what Mill calls the Greatest Happiness Principle (GHP). Mill states that,
…The Greatest Happiness Principle, holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness. By happiness is intended pleasure, and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain, and the privation of pleasure (2001, p. 10).
Mill addresses that there needs to be a distinction as to what pleasure is. He notes that there is a difference between mental and physical pleasures. Some of these may be more valuable than others. This is Mills biggest concern-providing the most happiness to the most people as a consequence of an action. This brings us back to the case of Tom and Mary.
Tom chose to remove Mary’s organs, against her will, and give them to three other patients in need of an organ transplant. This action had better consequences for the larger population than did allowing Mary to keep her organs would have. Tom’s actions also yield the most happiness since three people are given the chance to live rather than solely Mary. Although Mary’s happiness was compromised during Tom’s actions, according to the GHP, Tom acted as he should have by providing the greatest amount of pleasure to the greatest number of people.
The GHP determines morality by...