Moral Status A term commonly used by ethicists in medical field to talk about a

Moral status a term commonly used by ethicists in

This preview shows page 5 - 7 out of 12 pages.

Moral Status A term commonly used by ethicists in medical field to talk about a human person's worth or value is moral status (see Beauchamp & Childress, 2013, pp. 62-94). Moral status explains which sorts of beings or entities are valuable and have rights to be treated in certain ways. You might begin by asking, "Why is it that my neighbor has a certain kind of value and a rock does not?" Any answer one gives will describe certain characteristics or capacities that differentiate the neighbor from a rock. These characteristics or capacities explain why the entity has the value it does. For example, we might say that my neighbor has moral status (i.e., value or worth) because he or she is a rational being, or because he or she has the capacity to feel pain and pleasure, etc. Thus, to talk about a being's moral status is to talk
Image of page 5
about a being's value, as well as why it has that value. The focus here is the moral status of human persons . Does moral status differ among persons? It will be clear below that according to the Christian worldview, moral status does not differ from person to person. It is nevertheless common for people (including health care professionals) to think and act in ways that assign higher or lower moral status to human persons based on certain characteristics and capacities. The following five theories of moral status are different views regarding what makes human persons valuable. Each of these theories will pick a certain set of characteristics or capacities and claim that a human person is valuable (i.e., has moral status) only if he or she possesses the relevant characteristic or capacity. Consider carefully each of the following theories: (1) a theory based on human properties , (2) a theory based on cognitive properties , (3) a theory based on moral agency , (4) a theory based on sentience , and (5) a theory based on relationships. It is nevertheless common for people (including health care professionals) to think and act in ways that assign higher or lower moral status to human persons based on certain characteristics and capacities. The following five theories of moral status are different views regarding what makes human persons valuable. Each of these theories will pick a certain set of characteristics or capacities and claim that a human person is valuable (i.e., has moral status) only if he or she possesses the relevant characteristic or capacity. Consider carefully each of the following theories: (1) a theory based on human properties , (2) a theory based on cognitive properties , (3) a theory based on moral agency , (4) a theory based on sentience , and (5) a theory based on relationships. 1. The theory based on human properties holds that it is only and distinctively human properties that confer moral status upon a human being. It follows that all and only human beings, or Homo sapiens, have full moral status. Some of the characteristics that would endow a human being with moral status would include being conceived from human parents, or having a human genetic code. In this view, one only needs to be a human being to count as having full moral status.
Image of page 6
Image of page 7

You've reached the end of your free preview.

Want to read all 12 pages?

  • Fall '16

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture

  • Left Quote Icon

    Student Picture