Judith Jarvis Thompson’s thought experiment explores the thought process behind utilitarian and deontological intuitions in relation to medical ethics. In the original thought experiment, a surgeon is presented with an opportunity to save his patients by killing a healthy individual. The reader is then asked to decide what the surgeon should do. If the reader choses to go through with the transplants, they have utilitarian intuitions. We can explain their utilitarian leanings on account of their decision to sacrifice an unsuspecting healthy individual in order to save the five patients. On the other hand, if the reader decided not to go through with the transplants, they would be displaying deontological intuitions because they believe killing is morally wrong, even if it were to produce good consequences. As we can see, there are too many unknown factors in Thompson’s thought experiment for it to truly predict an individual’s intuitions. Through several modifications aimed at eliminating confounds, I will demonstrate how the thought experiment created by Thompson can be revised to provide an unbiased representation of the deontological and utilitarian intuitions displayed by the reader. This paper will also demonstrate why we can predict the West’s general trend of leaning towards deontological intuitions.
In the original experiment, Thompson refers to the as the ‘individual’. While it might be clear to some that he is referring to the person who is a match for his