Morality is a system through which people distinguish what is right from what is wrong. Nonetheless, factors such as culture, location, and beliefs lead to a difference in the morals of different people (Chiu, et.al, 1997, p. 923). For example, in some cultures, people find gays as morally acceptable. However, in other cultures, people find gay individuals immoral. Hence, such differences in moral understandings have led to studies directed towards understanding morality. Moral studies are covered under ethics. As a discipline, ethics helps people understand how morality differs using an array of theories. This paper explores some of these theories by examining the case of a fetal abnormality.
Which theory or theories are being used by Jessica, Marco, Maria, and Dr. Wilson to determine the moral status of the fetus? Explain.
In the case study, Jessica appears to use cultural relativism to determine the moral status of her unborn baby. Under cultural relativism, theorists find that people tend to act according to what is already established by society as the right thing. Hence, people who are bound by cultural relativism tend to exhibit certain beliefs or convictions. These convictions are possessed widely by society thus, one is right to act by them. In the case of Jessica, she has an established conviction about the sacred lives of people. Given that the fetus is also a person, then, in Jessicas eyes, it should be treated like a sacred being too. However, she does not arrive at a direct decision during the time because she is shocked by the news of her unborn baby being deformed.
Marco, on the other hand exhibits ethical egoism. He understands that the baby is deformed. He states that he will stand by the decision of his wife. However, he does not act in a selfless way by trying to deny the doctor the right to share news of the babys state with Jessica. This decision shows how Marco could have been able to impose a given decision on Jessica had the doctor not told Jessica the news. After he fails to convince the doctor not to talk to Jessica, his selfish views are also evident. For example, while Maria advises Jessica to keep the baby, Marco finds that the decision will affect their status economically.
Maria displays the divine command theory. As a faithful Christian, she believes in Gods creation. She is anxious to receive the news of her grandchild. However, she does not like the fact that Marco and the doctor are speaking in private about it. As a woman who is overly protective of her faith and daughter, she does not allow Marco and the doctor to interfere with what God has given them. Hence, she starts praying after the doctor tells her of the diagnosis. The doctor stresses that an abortion would be a responsible thing for Jessica to do given the manner in which their unborn child would grow. However, Maria stands he ground by telling Jessica to keep the baby and allow Gods intention to prevail.
Dr. Wilson uses Kantian theory in spelling out what he thinks is morally right. According to Kants theory, something is right if it is ones duty (Banham, 2007, p. 582). As a doctor, he is determined to tell Jessica the news because in theory, it is his duty to do so. Also, as a doctor, one finds that the state of such a fetus warrants a decision that will be in its favour (Steinbock, 2011, p. 42). Hence, he advises Jessica to undergo an abortion. He also believes that as the mother, Jessica should understand that given the state of her unborn baby, abortion is the most responsible action.
How does the theory determine or influence each of their recommendation for action?
The theory of cultural relativism could influence Jessicas recommendation for action because convictions about the sacredness of lives are embedded in her. Hence, she cannot be mistaken if she fails to abort. Ethical egoism could also influence Marcos recommendation for action. As an ethical egoist, one believes that his opinions and interests are right (Frederiksen, 2015, p. 12). Hence, he is likely to recommend an abortion. The divine command theory stipulates that in this case, she should recommend an action that is right in Gods eyes (Simpson, Piazza & Rios, 2016, p 261). Hence, she is likely to recommend that Jessica should keep the baby. Following Kants theory, Dr. Wilson believes in doing ones duty. In this case, he believes Jessicas duty is to abort the fetus. Hence, he is likely to recommend it.
What theory do you agree with?
I agree with Kantian theory. The doctor emphasizes that the fetus will have several challenges when growing up. It is also obvious that Jessica and Marco are likely to experience many unknown challenges if they decide to keep the unborn baby. By choosing to abort, Jessica would be saving herself, Marco, and the fetus from unforeseen challenges.
How would that theory determine or influence the recommendation for action?
It is evident that when people do their duties, this achieves happiness for the majority. Hence, Kants theory would influence me to also recommend an abortion.
Morality theories do not exist to prescribe what people should do if they want to act right. They exist to help theorists describe how people act and what determines their actions. Also, as seen above, these theories ease the doubts people have about the morality of their actions.
Banham, G. (2007). Kant's moral theory. British journal for the history of philosophy, 15(3), 581-593.
Chiu, C. Y., Dweck, C. S., Tong, J. Y. Y., & Fu, J. H. (1997). Implicit theories and conceptions of morality. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 73, 923-940.
Frederiksen, C. S. (2015). Ethical Egoism; Ethical Theories; Utilitarianism. Dictionary of Corporate Social Responsibility.
Simpson, A., Piazza, J., & Rios, K. (2016). Belief in divine moral authority: Validation of a shortened scale with implications for social attitudes and moral cognition. Personality and Individual Differences, 94, 256-265.
Steinbock, B. (2011). Life before birth: the moral and legal status of embryos and fetuses. Oxford University Press.
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