The article is written from the perspective of a mother concerned about her son’s health, which is now in the care of doctors. The mother praises her son for being such an outstanding person, remembering how far he has come in such a short time. The mother is torn between continuing to protect her child and allowing him to die, which would be better in terms of the primary maternal emphasis. However, she seems to be out of choices in this situation and finds Miles’ death to be an extension of maternal instinct for the common good.
While showboating, Miles had sustained a brain injury. Despite the fact that the doctors were able to save his life, Miles remained unconscious for eight weeks after which he came to a minimally conscious state. It was clear that over the next four years of struggle, Miles was in pain and felt imprisoned in a situation which he couldn’t resist. Miles had been left with no meaningful life to live spending time in bed and wheelchair. After four years of no progress it felt Miles did not want to continue, the doctors also shared the same instincts. The parent refers his death through mercy killing as “a blessed release noting that the only good thing that happened to Mile after the Accident was his death.”
The basic idea of Utilitarianism is the approach of the question of what is right and bad. Utilitarianism opines that good is that which results to high pleasure, often referred to as hedonism, to the maximum number of people hence the principle of utility. The moral correctness of any action is judged according to whether it satisfies the interests of many people. Therefore egoism is highly discouraged in utilitarianism as it only serves the interests of few. The principle of utility in utilitarianism focuses on “good” through making judgments based on the feeling of humans in the form of pleasure. The utility principle also stresses on satisfaction and happiness to the maximum possible number of people not for oneself. Morally right things to do are the ones which promote utility even when the person acting may not be contended or benefit from the outcome. It will be great for everyone to benefit from an action, but utilitarianism is all about the interest for many.
When faced with different situations utilitarianism advises that; one should consider all the available options. Then find out the level of happiness which could result in the execution of any of the options, how many people would experience the satisfaction, determine the choice which leads in greatest happiness to most people and choose the option that produces the greatest level of happiness to the greatest number of individuals. Utilitarianism exists in two ways, the act, and rule Utilitarianism. Act utilitarianism takes into consideration the consequences of a single act while rule utilitarianism considers the effects of repeatedly executing a certain action. In conclusion, the theory of utilitarianism means that there is nothing right or wrong but what matters is the consequences of the act which can prove either way, so the major focus is the result, not the action.
Application of Utilitarianism in the Article: Protecting My Son Meant Wishing for His Death
Before Miles suffers a brain injury, everyone is happy including the family, himself and his friends. However, the injury takes away happiness from Miles, family, friends, and doctors. Despite the fact that his life is saved, to the relief of many people, it is later discovered that Miles cannot be well. Several actions taken by the doctors as well as the family after the injury of Miles are acts of utility.
The family and doctors try the best treatment for Miles so that he can be well. Trying to get the best treatment is a greater good as the recovery of Miles could bring more satisfaction to Miles himself, the family, friends, and doctors as well. However, this option does not work since Miles does not recover, and despite being in a minimally subconscious state, he cannot talk, and he is in great pain.
All through the four years the doctors are aware of Mile’s state but choose not to reveal it. Such a decision is an act of utilitarianism as the family and friends remain happy and hopeful that Miles will recover. The doctors also remain satisfied that they won’t feel guilty by hurting the feelings of the family through revealing the bitter truth. This decision pays off well as the family remains hopeful for four years until Miles himself indicates that he couldn’t continue.
The decision to execute mercy killing to Miles is an act of utilitarianism. It ends the long-suffering on Miles and imprisonment installed to him by the brain injury. It results to a greater good as the family doesn’t have to worry anymore about the suffering of Miles. Even the mother notes that the only good thing which had happened to Miles since the injury was his death. The doctors are also satisfied since they don’t have to carry the burden anymore.
Mill, John Stuart. Utilitarianism. Ipswich: Ebook, 2017.
Spinney, Lu. Protecting My Son Meant Wishing for His Death. August 11, 2017. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/11/well/family/protecting-my-son-meant-wishing-for-his-death.html?rref=collection%2Ftimestopic%2FEuthanasia (accessed September 20, 2017).