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Singer’s utilitarianism and Kant’s deontology

Should Danielle donate her liver to her father or not? Analyze the choice from the point of view of both of the philosophies listed above and explain which works better in your opinion.

Description for Situation 2:

Please use Singer’s utilitarianism and Kant’s deontology. (Essays should be about 1200 words in length.)

Situation #2: Danielle’s father, an alcoholic named Frank, left her family when she was 9 years old, her sister Erin was 12, and her brother Eddy was just 6. From that point on their mother raised them as a single mom. Times were hard but they got by thanks to the help of her mom’s family with whom they lived while her mom finished college and went to work as an accountant. Danielle’s mother died from cancer a few years ago.

Danielle is now 30 years old, married, and has a 2 year old son.

Her brother Eddy was recently contacted by Frank’s second wife, who told Eddy that his father Frank was suffering from a failing liver probably brought on by his years of alcoholism. Eddy has since visited his father and reestablished his relationship with his estranged father.

Although Frank spent nearly a decade after leaving Danielle and Eddy fighting his alcoholism, in the past ten years he has gotten his act together, given up drinking and lead a modest, if respectable life. He has held a steady job as a restaurant manager, attended regular AA meetings, and married for a second time. Like Danielle, Frank too has a 2-year old, a daughter named Ciera.

Frank is currently on the waitlist for a liver, but because of an unusual genetic condition, it is difficult to find a match for him. His condition is worsening and he is unlikely to find a match any time soon. His doctors don’t believe he will live out the year without a transplant. Family members who share the same genetic material have a good chance of being compatible. Eddy went in, got tested, but he turned out not to be compatible.

Eddy has since tried to get his sisters Danielle and Erin to go in, but Erin has refused, blaming her father for having left them when they needed them. Erin took her family situation the hardest out of the three siblings, also suffering from alcoholism throughout her teens and early adult years. She blames her failed marriage on the turmoil in her teens and her father’s abandonment.

Thus attention has turned to Danielle as being Frank’s only hope. Both her father’s second wife and Eddy have pushed her to get tested, which Danielle has. She is a good, although not perfect, match for Frank. There is a more than 50% chance that if she were to go through with the operation, Frank’s life would likely be extended by at least 2 decades so long as he doesn’t return to drinking. (Although the medical assistant who tested her suggested she might do more good by donating her liver to an anonymous donor who is likely to be a better match and probably to have even better life extending prospects.)

Danielle isn’t sure what to do. Her grandmother on her mother’s side who has always been there for her and has never much cared for Frank, blaming him for ruining her daughter’s life with his drinking and bad behavior, says that Danielle doesn’t owe Frank anything given that he failed to hold up his responsibilities as a father. Furthermore, her grandmother points out that alcoholism runs in the family and that there may be other family members—like her sister Erin, or God forbid, her own daughter—who may one day need her liver just as much as her father who wasted his life away.

Frank, for his part, did not want to intrude on his daughter and ask her for a favor now, feeling that he did not have the right to ask Danielle for this favor. He told Eddy, however, that he did keep track of them in recent years via Facebook and through other old friends, and very much hoped to one day reconnect with them, but did not want to cause them any discomfort.

The surgery is a significant surgery but has relatively low risks. In very few cases (about 1 in 500) donors have suffered complications leading to death. More common are other health complications such as hernia and infection which lead to complications.

Last Updated on March 21, 2018

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