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Ethics Case

Consider the following case:

Mr. Q is a white 55-year-old man who injured his left foot some time ago and now it has turned gangrenous. The skin of his foot has turned black and the odor of the dead and dying skin is overwhelming. If Mr. Q does not have his left foot amputated, the gangrene could spread, requiring the loss of even more leg or even a systemic infection which could kill him. However, despite the look and smell of his foot and the repeated statements of multiple doctors, Mr. Q refuses to accept that his foot must be amputated and says that if it is just left alone, it will get better. Mr. Q has been examined twice by independent psychiatrists and found to be wholly competent and cognizant and not in any general way mentally impaired, despite his strange refusal to accept medical advice about his foot and its treatment.

You have been called in as an ethics consultant. Some of Mr. Q’s treatment team believe that his foot should be amputated despite his refusal to consent because of the high probability of his death if it is not and the seeming irrationality of his refusal. Others on the team insist that all that should be done is repeatedly giving Mr. Q the medical facts, and beyond that, his wishes, whatever they may be, should be respected. Use material from class to analyze morally important features of the scenario that need to be taken into account. Describe which of the proposed options you would support, or, if relevant, articulate a third option you believe is superior to both. Whatever position you take, support it using either a virtue ethics or care ethics framework (not both). You should not just summarize the ethical theory you choose as a whole, but do explain concepts from it that are relevant to supporting your decision in the case of Mr. Q.

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