The Survival Lottery Essay Research Paper Brian

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The Survival Lottery Essay, Research Paper Brian Ellis Philosophy Essay Critically assess the survival lottery In his article “The Survival Lottery,” Harris suggests a situation where a possible course of action would be to kill a healthy person and use his organs for transplantation, thereby saving several lives at the cost of one. However the argument Harris presents, which he claims to be rational, does intuitively raise a certain moral repugnance. The issues addressed such as whether letting die is equivalent to killing, or is killing the innocent ever justified, are controversial in themselves and Harris?s views have been roundly criticised. This Essay will examine the main issues raised by the survival lottery and attempt to prove Harris?s claim that it would be a

rational thing to do is in fact wrong. I will not do this by appealing to some objective moral standard, such as we have a duty to never kill the innocent, as this will inevitably lead to deadlock and lower the debate to a matter of your own personal opinion. Instead I will argue that a Reductio ad Absurdum can be levelled against Harris?s argument because of the untenable consequences it would lead to. By revealing the weakness of the argument for the lottery we can show why it shouldn?t take place without being drawn into a conflict between consequentialist and objectivist based ethical theories Harris?s argument is based on the “maximising lives” theory, as he believes there is value in numbers and that two lives are twice as valuable as one. From this premise he gives the

example in the survival lottery of two patients Mr. Y and Mr. Z who are certain to die unless they get organ transplants, but no spare organs are to be found. They both suggest that a healthy person, (Mr. A) be seized, killed painlessly and his organs be used for the transplantation. They argue that this is the rational and morally correct thing to do, for to not do so would be sacrificing two lives to save one. It is the right course of action since it maximises the number of lives saved albeit at the cost of a healthy and innocent person. To combat the fear, worry and possible abuse by doctors of who should be seized and “disorganised” Mr. Y and Z suggest a lottery as a fair way of determining who should be the donor. Mr Y and Z do have a strong case, they can argue that

they are just as innocent as Mr A, as it?s not their fault they need organ transplants. For the doctors to refuse to treat them is in effect discriminating against sick people. When we try to point out to them that doctors have a duty not to kill anyone, Mr Y and Z could claim that this is begging the question as the doctors through there inaction will be killing both of them. Perhaps this is where we can attack Harris, he equates killing with letting die for as a consequentialist it does not matter to him how the deaths come about, merely the fact that they have occurred is what?s important. However we could argue that by killing Mr. A we will have performed an ACTION, it will have been a man made death. On the other hand if we “kill” Mr. Y and Z we will have let nature take

its course, no act has been done by an agent and can we be held responsible for things we don?t do ? We could use the example of starving children in Africa, if we don?t always send aid to them are we responsible for killing them ? However this does not settle the question, we have merely provided an alternative viewpoint and on what basis can we say this is more morally correct than Harris?s view ? Maclean tries to side step this deadlock by arguing that the killing of Mr A is not moral question at all, in fact its “morally impossible.” Harris assumes that the organs for Mr. Y and Z are available albeit at the death of an innocent person. Maclean states that although the organs are physically available, they are not morally available and if this is the case there should be