Human action is guided by consideration on the required/ desired outcome of that action. It holds therefore that for every action and inaction there is a consequence that has to be dealt with either positive or negative. In some instances, the determination on whether an action or inaction shall result in positive or negative outcome is obscure. In such situations, a decision need be taken on the alternative that is best situated in the situations. There are different ways of determining the best course of action, such as the choosing between the ‘better evil’, striving for the ‘highest good’ and the canon of ‘always do good and avoid evil’. This paper seeks to illustarate the decision making process involved in choosing between such situations, using baby ‘miracle’s’ case in relation to Mill’s philosophy on ethics.
Baby miracle is an infant born before term, which puts him in a challenging and precarious health situation, not only in the present, but also in his future if he is to survive. The moral conflicts involved here are with the doctor, his concern in that he stays true to his vocation and the baby ‘miracle’ in that he receives the best fate under the present circumstances. In these circumstances, I would advise the doctor to apply his judgment in determining whether in exercise of his skills, the result would be improving the circumstances under which the baby achieves pleasure and happiness presently and in its future. This determination would be made by utilitarian principles in which the doctor should asses his or her actions ‘by and in proportion to the value of its consequences for the general happiness.’ In consideration of the situation of baby miracle therefore, the doctor should determine if the chances of survival for the child, to grow up and attain a normal and happy childhood exceed the possibility of a permanent disability that displeasures the baby, both in its present and in future. According and in relation to mills, pleasure and pain guide human actions, avoiding pain and seeking pleasure or the absence of pain. In the suffering of others, we experience pain, and in their joy we feel happy for them, the doctor therefore, should consider the pleasure, and pain the child would experience either by saving it, or by declining to, if the chronic lung infection causes more pain than the child would enjoy life, then it should not be saved.