If you had asked people on the street in November 2019 what the word “sort” meant, you might have looked at many bewildered faces. A year and a half after a global pandemic, the situation is completely different. In Europe, too, doctors in overcrowded intensive care units faced the question of which patient should receive oxygen – and which not.
Such so-called assistance disputes, in which different criteria must be weighed against whom assistance should be given, are not well known in medicine. Since organ transplantation became possible, a number of questions have arisen: If many people need a new liver, is it okay to give it to alcoholics? Is it better to use organs from a single donor to save multiple people or a person with multiple organ failure? The range of questions ranges from easy decision making intuitively and ethically (should an organ transplant to an 85-year-old or a 20-year-old if they both need it to survive?) to those for which there can be no right answers.
Writer Annette Dufner addresses this exact problem. She holds the Chair of Medical Ethics at the Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn and presents a specialist book that can be considered as future standard work on the matter. He sums up the state of research and the various situations within the debate well, and from there he develops his own ideas which will shape the discourse.
Help with complex ethical issues
Philosopher’s theory is mainly based on “interpersonal grouping”, in which the advantages and disadvantages of a medical decision are summarized across all persons. The procedure recognizes a variety of needs and makes it possible to remain able to act and make decisions even in complex situations with many participants. The writer manages to make her theory understandable, and it’s refreshing how cleverly and admirably sober she sometimes applies it to actual dilemmas. For example, frequent member requirements: Do you give someone who needs a new kidney every ten years a member multiple times, or do you give one to different people?
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