Should Organ Recipients Be Chosen on Merit?
If a school teacher and a murderer are both on an organ-recipient waiting list, the teacher should receive an organ, even if the murderer has been on the list longer.
This may be a Q1 violation if you do not have consistent criteria for deciding among multiple candidates for a donor organ.
This is a Q2 violation if you would not want merit to be a factor if you were on a waiting list, and might be a violation if you did not like how someone running such a waiting list defined "merit." It may also be a Q2 violation if your criteria for deciding among candidates is arbitrary.
Although it might seem more fair to assign organs to people on a waiting list by seeing who is most deserving, setting up non-arbitrary criteria for determining merit is exceptionally difficult. In the case of the teacher and the murderer, what if the teacher has inoperable cancer and is not expected to live more than a year even after the transplant, and the murderer is a man in his 30s who committed the crime when he was sixteen and is repentant? Would that change your opinion of who was more deserving?
And how would you settle cases where the determining criteria was hard to compare? For example, is there a fair, consistent criteria you can use to arrange the following candidates in order from most to least deserving?
- An autistic man
- An eleven-year-old orphan girl
- A devoted charity worker
- A successful technology entrepreneur
- A noted surgeon
- An Oscar-winning actress
- A popular politician
- Your unemployed, college-student son
This is such a complex issue that almost any attempt to construct a meaningful way of judging merit will either violate Q1 or contain an arbitrary component that risks violating Q2. For this reason, you may have to settle on a means of selecting recipients — such as a first-come, first-served waiting list — that is easier to define, even if it is less satisfying to your sense of justice.
You are encouraged to leave your answers to the questions posed in this post in the comments section. This post is based on an excerpt from Ask Yourself to be Moral, by D. Cancilla, available at LuLu.com and Amazon.com. See the 2Q system page for details of the philosophical system mentioned in this post.