The Schiavos, Rule Utilitarianism, and Kantian Ethics Essay

Words: 1277
Pages: 6

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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No matter what kind of life their daughter will live, she will still be living, and giving them hope that she will come out of her state.
Utilitarianism, on the other hand, is a subcategory of Teleological Ethics, which is the goodness of ends. This means that an act is considered good as long as it benefits the majority. Two types of utilitarianism are act utilitarianism and rule utilitarianism. Act utilitarianism states that, when faced with a choice, we must first consider the likely consequences of potential actions, and from that, choose to do what we believe will generate the most happiness. Rule utilitarianism considers a reasonable set of rules that would lead to the greatest amount of pleasure.
Contrary to Kantian ethics, utilitarianism is the belief that the end justifies the means. To use the example of the friend with the dress: Utilitarianism would suggest making a white lie so as to make the friend feel better. Despite the fact that you lied, the consequences created more happiness or pleasure. A triage in an emergency room could also be used to compare Kantian ethics and Utilitarianism. Kantian ethics would save anybody. But utilitarianism would select the person who would cause more good. Through Utilitarianism, we can see that Terri’s husband Michael is acting as a utilitarian. He is looking at the greater good for his wife. He