The Schiavos, Rule Utilitarianism, and Kantian Ethics Essay

1269 Words Sep 30th, 2012 6 Pages
Rui Chaves
The Schiavos, Rule Utilitarianism, and Kantian Ethics
The case of “The Schiavos” is focused primarily on one member of the family, which is Terri Schiavo. Terri had been in a coma for 13 years. Although, “no one is completely sure what happened but the best guess is she suffered a heart attack” (Pierce, 64) presumably caused by her bulimia. Due to the severity of her heart attack, it left Terri with severe brain damaged which in turn left her in a persistent vegetative state which leaves a person showing no awareness of one’s environment. Terri’s husband, Michael Schiavo, contended that there was no hope for Terri to recover and that he felt it was his wife's wish that she not be kept alive through life support. Michael
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Utilitarian’s try to separate the action from the actor, and look at the bigger picture over the individual. Followers of Kant, disagree with this approach, and claim that in this system, minorities and individuals are often overlooked and brushed aside. Kant argues that any action cannot be moral unless the motives are moral.
Kantian ethics is a subcategory of Deontological Ethics, which is the rightness of actions. Kantian ethics uses the concept of categorical imperative, which states that you should act in ways such that you can rationally will your acts to be a universal law. Therefore, that which is good, not that which is bad, can be universalizable. Kant believed that all people should act in a way so that you never treat another person as a means, but only as an end onto themselves. This means that if someone were to perform an act, they would do so without concern for the consequence, but rather because they believe it is in fact what they should do.
For instance, if a person were to ask me if his car was nice but I thought it was junk, Kant would disregard his feelings because telling him the truth is more important. Therefore, it is okay to perform illegal or unethical actions because morality and loyalty are more important. The problem would then arise: “What if everyone did this? What if everyone acted on impulse and did whatever they wanted? There would be no need for moral choices and
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