A characteristic of Kant’s good will is that it be free of particular interests. A free will is autonomous and is guided by reason. A heteronomous will is guided by sentiment, context, or self-interest.
Inside a Texas children’s hospital, an 11-month-old girl [named Tinslee] lies paralyzed and in constant pain. She can breathe only with a ventilator. A suite of medications keeps her alive. Tinslee’s condition, doctors say, will never improve. The infant’s health-care team at Cook Children’s Medical Center in Fort Worth says that every medical procedure it performs on her causes only more suffering and that she should be allowed to die naturally and peacefully. Her mother is begging for her daughter to be kept alive. The emotionally charged decision about Tinslee’s fate fell to a Tarrant County district court judge, who on Thursday ruled in favor of the hospital. (1, Lati)
The physician and the parent each have a will to act morally. Use Kant’s criteria to describe will.
- Characterize the will of the physician in this case as either heteronomous or autonomous. Be sure to provide your reasons for that characterization.
- Characterize the will of the parent providing reasons for your characterization.
- What would you do if you were the physician?
- What would you do if you were the parent?
1. Marisa Lati. January 3, 2020. Judge rules that doctors can take baby off life support against mother’s wishes. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/01/03/after-hospital-mother-disagree-court-had-rule-who-decides-when-child-dies/
also reply to this student post
Hello Classmates & Professor:
The will of the physician in this case is autonomous because the physician knows that this little girl is in so much pain that her condition will never improve. Any procedure that is performed will not help her and will cause her more suffering. There is no logical reason to keep her suffering.
The will of the parent is heteronomous because it involves self-interest. The parent wants the child to be kept alive because they can’t bare to see their child die, but is not taking into consideration the well-being of the child. The child is suffering deeply by staying alive.
The physician made the right decision by taking it to the court. The physician had to put it in the hands of the legal system in order to protect themselves from any type of lawsuit. The physician took an oath to save lives to the best of their ability, not to prolong suffering and pain when there is no chance for a quality of life.
As a parent you want desperately for your child to stay alive and to be able to protect them. As a parent, it is our duty to protect, but when it comes to a decision of letting them die naturally that is a hard decision to make and accept. We never want to see our children die before us. As a parent I don’t think I would be able to agree to let them die naturally.