Applying Normative Theories to a Moral Situation
Normative theories of ethics assist individuals to evaluate their actions, particularly when faced with dilemmas that require ethical decision-making. Informed consents are necessary before engaging in complex medical practices. In reference to the case of Dr. Cee, Ms. Kay, and Sandy the dog, the veterinarian opted to proceed with an experiment that had a probability of ninety-five percent failure without his client’s consent. The issue that required resolution in this case is “Was it morally right for Dr. Cee to treat Ms. Kay’s dog without consent?” This study will focus on evaluating rule utilitarianism and deontology in the case of conducting a medical experiment without consent.
Rule Utilitarianism and Kantian Deontology
Rule utilitarianism can assist in understanding why sometimes individuals do not mind about the consequences of their action, since their focus is to maximize other people’s happiness. This rule maximizes individuals’ happiness by following regulations to oversee particular moral situations. The rule that follows the best overall outcomes usually becomes the best rule. According to rule utilitarianism, any action can be acceptable as long as it maintains the rule that corresponds to the situation.
Kantian deontology is concerned on fulfilling an individual duty with respect to the moral law. This theory asserts that although some actions that bring positive results are perceived to be good, they may not be morally good. According to Kant, individuals can test morality in their actions by applying the concept of categorical imperative. The first formulation in categorical imperative focuses on individual behavior while the second formulation purports that individuals should strive to act in a manner that pleases humanity. The third formulation focuses on the will to act morally while the fourth formulation demands individuals to understand themselves as moral beings.
Applying Rule Utilitarianism and Deontology
In the case of Dr. Cee and Ms. Kay, any type of action that increases happiness or reduces unhappiness is acceptable even though the concepts of rightness or wrongness are not initially considered. According to rule utilitarianism, sometimes individuals may be pushed to act if they believe that their actions could maximize happiness, thus, they do not mind about the consequence, as long as the expected goals are achieved. It was not ethical for Dr. Cee to undertake the experiment without notifying Ms. Kay, particularly when the probability of success was quite low.
Rule utilitarianism emphasize that following certain rules enhance the greatest good with better consequences than permitting exceptions due to individual instances. Undertaking an experiment without informing the client was morally unacceptable because such act was against rule utilitarianism. Rule utilitarianism applies to the entire situation, even though the client could have benefited through the risky experiment. Although the experiment was successful, Mr. Dee did not adhere to the rules that guided the circumstance. The dog could have died during the experiment, thus, leading to maximum harm rather than maximum happiness.
Every individual has a duty to play in other individuals’ life if such duty adheres to the moral law. Dr. Cee acted within his maxims while treating Ms. Kay’s dog, irrespective of the consequences because the results were quite essential to his profession. His action was in accordance to the maxim that could have become a universal law. However, he failed to treat his client as both means and end by refusing to ask for consent. Human reasoning is allowed to surpass consequences when actions are perceived to happen according to fundamental moral principles.
Kant’s moral theory accepts that some behaviors are unacceptable even when they lead to satisfactory outcomes. In this case, acting without consent was an unethical, as it could have minimized trust between the veterinarian and his client if treatment turned out to be negative. Dr. Cee opted to treat Sandy using an expensive method with a low probability of success, but choose not to inform Ms. Kay for fear of breaking her heart. Ms. Kay was free to sue Dr. Cee if the treatment turned out to be unproductive because she did not permit him to carry on with the treatment. The moral duty restrained the veterinarian from making a false promise to Ms. Kay. Since it was the veterinarian’s duty to treat the dog, he had to employ rationalism to ensure that his client get the best deal.
An action can qualify to become a moral if every individual can identify it as a universal law. Although Dr. Cee was capable of saving Ms. Kay’s dog, his actions were not ethical. However, Dr. Cee applied rule utilitarianism to increase his client’s happiness, but went against deontology theory by fulfilling his duty without consent. It is the responsibility of the medical professional to reveal all the information about patient care and to ask for permission from the family members about the proposed form of treatment. The moral lesson in this case is that individuals should behave only according to the maxims that can bring universal law. The laws of morality should be based on deontology where everybody can derive his/her behaviors.