Medical Ethics
Michael Green
Manuel Vargas
phone, office information

11 May. Numbers don't count.
13 May. Aggregation and Kamm.
13 May. Glover
15 May. How to measure quality in a QALY
15 May. QALYs and fairness
18 May. The veil of ignorance argument
22 May. QALYs in macro and micro contexts
27 May. Rakowski and Post on preferring the younger.
3 June. Consent as a way out?

Medical Ethics: 29 May. How great a loss is death?

The basic positions

Suppose A is (significantly) older than B. You might say one or both of these things.

1. A has gotten more value out of life than B has; A has had more intrinsically valuable experiences and opportunities.

2. Death would be equally bad for both A and B; each would suffer an equally great loss.

Can we grant 2. but still maintain 1?

This is what I was imagining at the end of the class: granting that death would be as bad for A as it would be for B, we should still prefer the younger of the two because the older has already had more out of life.

Jean's point

Jean hit on a weak spot in this. If A has already had more than B, doesn't it follow that B will have greater losses than A: the lost opportunities or intrinsically valuable experiences that A has had but B hasn't?

If so, you can't hold 1. while granting 2.

What does that show?

I think it shows that if you want to say that we should favor the younger on grounds of fairness then you will have to confront 2. directly. You'll have to explain why, despite the fact that 2. looks correct, it's misleading.

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