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Ethics case study

Responsibilities after Divorce

Category: Family ethics

Elmer donated a pint of blood that his wife Doris needed during operation. Elmer and Doris were subsequently divorced. Several years after the divorce Elmer was in an accident and needed a pint of blood. His new wife, Cora, was of a different blood type, and thus could not contribute blood to Elmer. Doris still lived in the same area as Elmer, and there were no health-related reasons that would have prevented her from donating blood.
Was Doris morally obligated to donate a pint of blood to Elmer; "Yes," "No," or "It depends"? Whatever your response explain the reasoning behind it.

http://ethics.sandiego.edu/resources/cases/Detail.asp?ID=8.

Solution Preview

See the attached file.

I would say that Doris is morally obliged to donate a pint of blood to Elmer because it is her moral duty to do so. It is her moral duty whether one considers it from the point of view of deontology or teleology.

From the deontological point of view, it is the moral duty of everyone to save human lives because human beings are an end in themselves. Elmer saved her life not because he wanted to, but because he could. For instance, Cora might want to save Elmer's life but she cannot because she has a different blood group. (It would be the same thing as asking if Doris would feed Elmer if he happens to be hungry, or give him something to wear if he is naked.) You can leave out what is in parentheses.

Consider one of the formulations of Kant's categorical imperative: « Act as though the maxim of your action were by your will to become a universal law of nature. » In this particular case, it can be formulated thus: « Donate blood to somebody to save that person's life if it does not in ...

Solution Summary

This case study concerns the donation of body organs and blood. It considers if one should donate to one's enemies or people who have treated one badly before. The case is considered from both the deontological and utilitarian points of view.

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