Philo 171
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 DE VERA Questions for the Third Exam

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PostSubject: DE VERA Questions for the Third Exam   DE VERA Questions for the Third Exam Icon_minitimeSun Mar 29, 2009 11:26 pm

De Vera
De Vera:
1. Discuss the moral status of 'fetuses' and comatose patients or those in persistent vegetative state (PVS). Meaning, what do you think is the moral status of fetuses and comatose patients?

2. After careful considerations of the various ethical theories/views we discussed, what “personal moral system or code” can you come up with and which you can adopt? Be sure to talk about the values, precepts/ideas, and other elements that should comprise this “personal moral system or code”. Include your conception of freedom and accountability in this given moral system and your view of what it means to be a moral individual.
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De Vera, Rosemarie

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Join date : 2008-11-24
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PostSubject: My answers...   DE VERA Questions for the Third Exam Icon_minitimeMon Mar 30, 2009 9:46 pm

1. Moral status of fetuses and comatose patients

In discussing the moral status, the condition on which we place our responsibility or obligation over a thing or being with the same standing as persons in general, of ‘fetuses’ and comatose patients or those in persistent vegetative state (PVS), it often centers in the concept of ‘life’. I suppose that all of us believe that any creation that has life has a moral status. However, there is no line on when will a ‘creation’ have a moral status and be considered so worthy above anything else.

Fetuses and comatose patients have different discussions regarding their moral status because fetuses do not have any experiences yet on what we call ‘world’ while those in comatose already had and had acquired value for the society.

In fetuses, most of the debates argue on whether fetuses already have life or not. From some articles, neurologists say that fetuses have their brains develop on the fourteenth day from conception which means the time they really have ‘life’. Hence, for them, this is the time that fetuses acquire their moral status. For others, even from the day of conception, when the sperm already joined the egg cell, that can be considered as a human life, since they also consider the sperm cells and egg cells as being living things.

It is important to discuss the moral status of fetuses mainly because of abortion. In our society, we condemn killings of humans, including fetuses. However, there are some who claim that fetuses are not yet human beings. This, for some, is the reason for allowing abortion.

I value life and for me, in my own opinion, fetuses, even on the day of conception, already have a moral status. If the fetus puts a risk on the gestational mother, the consequence could be the death of the fetus and this case is not arguable. But, if it is not, and the mother just wants to get rid of the baby, then that is wrong. Indeed, any person has autonomy over his or her body. But any person should be aware that whatever consequence will happen on anything that he or she will do, he or she is the one who will experience or suffer from it. And the moral values given by the society or by our own thinking are the ones he or she should think upon or follow. Since the fetus is still part of the woman carrying the being, one may think that she can do anything on it, whether she will continue the pregnancy or have an abortion. One argues that in aborting the fetus, she deprives the fetus of a future. However, no one is sure of what future the fetus will have after it will be born. Another pro-abortion tells that pregnancy brings difficulties to mothers –nine months of carrying the baby, painful delivery, leaving work to take care of the baby for at least a month, and so on. But in my opinion, are these enough excuses for ‘eliminating’ the one that brings such difficulties? In the first place, did the fetus want to be conceived? On the other hand, did the fetus want to be aborted?

On one side, I actually also consider abortion, if and only if, aside from medical conditions, there is no way that the fetus, once born, will grow up in a place without love. It will be much better to not live rather than spend life without anyone caring for you.

Anyways, for me, as much as possible, fetuses should be let to live whatever situation there is. If the mother would not be able to raise and give the basic needs the child should have, then bringing the child to relatives, people who are willing to take care of the child, or an orphanage are the options. A child is still “a gift from God.” Let’s respect the life of fetuses.

With regards to the comatose patients, I side with the medical meaning of life. It means that as long as the brain is functioning, then it is considered living or has life. Although some say that comatose patients are only partial moral beings and even some say that they have no moral status. But what if it has been too long, say a year or more already that the patient is in comatose? If the doctor says that there is still hope that the patient will be able to wake up, and then let the patient continue have the life-support system. But if it already took five years or more, for example, then I think it is permissible to have euthanasia. It is too costly to pay the life-support system and I think that if a comatose patient will still be awake, then it should have not taken so many years. My cousin shared that being in a comatose is just like sleeping, with the functions of the body still working including hearing. But if the patient is ‘sleeping’ for so many years, I do not think that he or she will be able to wake up. Aside from being too costly and my thought of impossibility of waking again, euthanizing should also be considered because having the life-support system is actually painful. It damages the larynx; several cuts in the body are needed for some devices to be inserted to the body, and many others.

Comatose patients, like the fetuses, do not have the capability to tell the doctors on what he or she wants. That is why it is important to have a statement already on what conditions euthanizing is accepted for you and who to take responsibility on making choices when you cannot, just like the “Five Wishes” made in philosophy 171 class, because we will never know what could happen. Some may argue that, no, continue with the life-support system at whatever cost, because he or she is still breathing. However, there are conditions in which there is the impossibility of being awaken, and especially if the patient already made a statement. If it is impossible for the patient to wake up, then let him or her rest permanently. And, even the family has the capacity to continue the life-support system even for ten years, if the patient already made a statement on the conditions for him or her to be euthanized, and then it should be respected and followed above all. Even if the family would suffer great loss if the patient would die and would rather want to see him or her ‘sleeping’, the decision still rests on the patient him or herself.

2. My personal moral system or code

My personal moral system or code would be called “Veran ethics” (from my surname “de Vera”). This moral system is a mixture of the Kantian ethics and the divine command theory. This moral system tells that in doing things, it should be intrinsically good. It does not disregard doing things which are not good in itself but would bring a good consequence, yet it considers the intrinsically good things as the best to do. And being a Catholic, this moral system follows the teachings of God. Some say that following God’s commandments means that people are just becoming obedient and doing things that we really want freely cannot be. But I do not think that way. I believe that whatever God says is the one good for us. In following it, then we are becoming moral beings.

From my learning in our Catholic school, being ‘free’ is not doing anything what you want. True ‘freedom’ means doing good things which are in accordance with God’s will. If we do things which we know are good in itself and are from the teachings of God, then I do not think there could be anything wrong. We are not talking here about being free and doing whatever we want and in doing so it is the doer who will suffer from bad consequences. We are talking about here on how to be moral persons. And, again, in doing what is good and God’s will, definitely makes us moral beings. This moral system actually takes out the burden on deciding or thinking on what you ought to do because the standards are given and clear –doing the good thing and God’s will.

The shortest explanation of “Veran ethics” would be: doing good things, because it is our duty, and the main duty is to follow God’s will.
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