cut up chuck – the failure of utilitarianism

Economist Bryan Caplan has a post about utilitarianism in which he describes a scenario he calls “Cut up Chuck”:

The “Cut Up Chuck” Case: A homeless guy named Chuck comes into the ER with a treatable leg wound. But instead of treating his wound, Dan the ER doctor realizes that Chuck’s heart, lungs, liver, and kidneys are all healthy and in fact are all matches for five patients upstairs who are at death’s door and in need of donor organs. So Dr. Dan cuts up Chuck, passes out his organs, and saves five people who otherwise would have died. Question: Did Dr. Dan do the right thing?

One major point of the scenario is that it illustrates the common understanding that it is not right to cut up one random person to save five others. In other words, utilitarianism is wrong. The goal of any social or governmental program should not be “to maximize well-being”, to “maximize happiness” or to “maximize life saving”. Personal rights have a huge weight in morality.

About christopher fisher

The blog is meant for educational/entertainment purposes. All material can be used and reproduced in any length for any purpose as long as I am cited as the source.
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