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I have recently read a fictional novel by Dean Koontz entitled One Door Away From Heaven
. As a disclaimer, it mentions that a branch of the
academic community it refers to numerous times, Utilitarian Bioethics, is infact not a product of the authors mind but a real group.
This shocked me, because what these 'academics' stand for is about as 'ethical' as resurrecting Hitler.
Let me begin by posting the Wikipedia definition:
Utilitarian bioethics is based on the premise that the distribution of resources is a zero-sum game, and that it therefore medical decisions
should logically be made on the basis of each person's total future productive value and happiness, their chance of survival from the present, and
the resources required for treatment.
Doesn't sound too bad so far, right? Directing medical treatment to patients most in need is not exactly a bad thing. But it is the way in which they
decide who needs this treatment most that is alarming.
For those whose cost of medical treatment or maintenance outweighs their total future economic value (because they are terminally ill, are no
longer productive, and have no reasonable chance of becoming productive or happy in the foreseeable future), it is economically efficient to free up
medical resources by not treating them.
As an example of this logic, every nurse who cares for a terminally ill Alzheimer's or cancer patient, a comatose individual, or an individual in a
vegetative state, is one less nurse to take care of a sick baby or a 12-year-old gunshot victim. See opportunity cost.
The way I read that is that a passive form of Euthanasia is sought. Instead of outright killing the person Utilitarian Bioethics states that they
should be left to die if the resources needed to keep them alive can be used in another 'better' way.
The happyness part is what really strikes me though. How do they define happyness? And how can they know how someone feels, let alone relate that
state of mind to their illness or condition?
The core of Utilitarian Bioethics believe that someone should be valued depending on their ability to contribute to society and live a full life.
Under their evaluation, disabled people, simple people, uneducated people etc. are all 'nonpersons'.
They believe these 'nonpersons' should be left to die, or in worse cases culled, so that 'normal' people can take their places and improve the
Their argument is:
Therefore, the benefits Utilitarian Bioethics include increased medical expenditure on other patients with a higher chance of survival and return
to a productive and/or happy status. This would ideally lead to an overall net increase in wealth and happiness.
So, they want people to die so they can make more money basically? Nice.
Lets weigh their 'benefits' against the cons:
The perceived downsides of Utilitarian Bioethics include : potential justifications for physicians to kill patients, a gravitation towards
acceptance of mortality and death, lack of medical progress (as the treatment of severe injuries would not be explored), the uncertainty in measuring
'happiness', and the possibility of classification of many disabled or old people as "nonpersons".
I think it will be unanimous that the downsides far outweigh any possible benefits from such action.
Ethics? How is it ethical to allow people to die for an 'increase in wealth'?
Utilitarianism dot net
have an extremely long winded and wordy description of bioethics.
However, some parts are coherent enough to convey the message:
Now that the human genome has been decoded, the ramifications of a utilitarian ethic go far beyond socioeconomic and legislative reform. In era of
post-genomic medicine, they extend to control of the pleasure-pain axis itself. By unravelling the molecular substrates of emotion, biotechnology
allied to nanomedicine permits the quantity, quality, duration and distribution of happiness and misery in the world to be controlled - ultimately at
will. More controversially, the dilemmas of traditional casuistry will lose their relevance. This is because our imminent mastery of the reward
centres ensures that everyone can be heritably "better than well" - a utopian-sounding prediction that currently still strikes most of us as
comically childlike in its naïveté. However, unlike perennially scarce "positional" goods and services in economics, personal happiness doesn't
need to be rationed. Within the next few centuries, a triple alliance of biotech, infotech and nanotech can - potentially - make invincible bliss a
presupposition of everyday mental health.
If that still confuses you (and it took me a few reads to get through the wordiness), basically they think in the near future we will be able to
manufacture happiness using a combination of biological science and advanced computer technology. Until that day comes, however, a survival of the
fittest-esque regime should be put into place that allocates resources to the happy, strong people and allows the 'weak' to die out.
In a way, Utilitarian Bioethics is simply another form of Nazism. Breeding out the 'nonpersons' to create a perfect race. The main difference is
that they don't make death camps and round up their prey, they simply ignore them into destruction.
Please research Utilitarian Bioethics further yourselves if this outrages you too, and remember it in case it is brought into use by a government any
time in the future.
[edit on 25-1-2009 by fooffstarr]