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Should Parents of Neonates With Bleak Prognosis Be Encouraged to Opt for Another Child With Better Odds? On the Notion of Moral Replaceability
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Philosophy.
2018 (English)In: Pediatrics, ISSN 0031-4005, E-ISSN 1098-4275, Vol. 142, p. S553-S557Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The notion of moral exchangeability is scrutinized and its proper place in neonatal care is examined. On influential moral outlooks, the neonate is morally exchangeable. On these views, if the parents are prepared to let go of the neonate with a poor prognosis and opt instead for another child who is healthy, this may be the morally right thing for them to do, and neonatal care ought to ease their choice.

The notion of moral exchangeability has a different place in different moral theories. Three theories are examined: deontological ethics (insisting on the sanctity of innocent human life), according to which there is no place for the replacement of 1 child for another. It is different, however, with utilitarianism and in the moral rights theory based on self-ownership. According to utilitarianism, we are all replaceable. According to the moral rights theory, neonates are replaceable to the extent that they have not developed personhood. Even a deontological ethicist of a Kantian bent would concur here with the moral rights theory.

Because influential moral theories imply that the neonate is morally exchangeable, it is reasonable within neonatal care, as a general rule, to grant the parents a veto against any attempts to save a child with a poor prognosis. In particular, if the parents are prepared instead to have another, healthy child, this is to be recommended. However, this rule cannot be strict. In rare cases, it is necessary to yield to parents who insist that their neonate be saved despite a poor prognosis.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. Vol. 142, p. S553-S557
National Category
Philosophy
Research subject
Practical Philosophy
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-159807DOI: 10.1542/peds.2018-0478FOAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-159807DiVA, id: diva2:1245939
Available from: 2018-09-06 Created: 2018-09-06 Last updated: 2018-12-04Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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