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CS 105 Assignment 1: Discussing Ethical Theories, Utilitarianism And Decision Making (Case Study Sample)


Assignment 1 -- Discussing Ethical Theories
CS 105 – Assignment 1
Jean, a former pharmacist, is now the network administrator for the LM Pharmacy in the town of Paris, Virginia. His duties include enabling the electronic transfer of information between health care providers (i.e., doctors and hospitals), patients, and the pharmacy itself. One of Jean's most important responsibilities is to protect health information in accordance with federal law and the pharmacy's privacy policy.
On July 14, during a family vacation on Martinique, a small Caribbean island, Jean's nephew Pierre is bitten by an exotic tropical insect and suffers a severe allergic reaction. From his knowledge as a former pharmacist Jean is aware that Pierre is at serious risk, and may even die, if he doesn't obtain a particular medication. There is a pharmacy on the island, but the pharmacist is unwilling and legally unable to provide the medication without a prescription from a licensed doctor.
After trying to reach a doctor, Jean learns that July 14 is an important French holiday known as Bastille Day and that no doctor is reachable within the required time. Jean, frantic with worry, decides to take matters into his own hands. He goes to a local internet café and uses his network ID and knowledge of the LM Pharmacy's security system to "impersonate" a health care provider and prescribe the necessary medication. The island pharmacist accepts the prescription and provides the medication. Pierre survives.
Use each of the four primary ethical theories we have studied (Act Utilitarianism, Rule Utilitarianism, Kantianism, and Social Contract Theory) to analyze Jean's actions in this situation, and to determine whether, under each theory, Jean acted ethically or not. You should begin by providing a brief explanation of how each theory works -- in other words, discuss the basic principles of each theory, and how it is used to reach an ethical decision. (2 points for each theory) Next, apply each theory to the above situation, explaining the analysis that you would go through for each theory in reaching a decision. (4 points for each theory) Finally, provide your "final answer," including why each theory would condemn or justify Jean's actions. (1 point for each theory)
While there is no specific required length for this assignment, it is expected that most students will need at least 3-4 typewritten pages to provide a reasonable discussion of the above questions.
Note: Although this assignment does not require you to analyze Jean's actions using the Virtue Ethics theory, you should feel free to incorpoate Virtue Ethics analysis in your discussion if you find it helpful.
[By the way, can you identify the 19th century novel on which this scenario is loosely based?]


Utilitarianism and decision-making
An Assignment Submitted by
Name of Student
Name of Establishment
Class XXXX, Section XXXX, Fall 2011
Act utilitarianism is an ethical theory, which posits that an action is morally right if it produces the best possible results in a particular circumstance.
The action must produce a positive result for it to be consistent with the theory and the expectation should thus inspire the doing of the act. An examination of the situation should also prove that the action is the best possible outcome attainable in the situation for it to be in harmony with the theory.
Individuals use act utilitarianism to make decisions by simply measuring the potential consequences and deciding on whether they will be positive or negative and to what extent. This type of utilitarianism is the most common due to the human habit of looking at the good that will result from our actions. On the other hand, Act Utilitarianism has an element of the result justifying the methods, whether moral or immoral.
In the case of Jean whose nephew Pierre is facing a life threatening condition, application of Act Utilitarianism is direct: What is the outcome of impersonating a healthcare provider and acquiring the lifesaving medication? The result is to save Pierre's life. In his view, this good outweighs any bad that he commits in the process. This justifies Jean's decision as one made with the guidance of Act Utilitarianism.
Rule Utilitarianism is an ethical theory, which posits that an action is right if it conforms to rules that produce the greatest good. Thus, the amount of good that a rule brings when followed determines its suitability in various circumstances (Warburton, 1999, 54).
The rule precedes the action in consideration, and then the result comes as a final element of the ethical experience. Thus, the result may be negative or positive but the rule guides the decision based on moral considerations and anticipated positive results.
Most individuals who use rule utilitarianism in decision making have some kind of moral or rule based training about what is considered right or wrong: the proverbial moral compass. To make such a decision, they only need to consult the rules and they will get a suggestion on which action to take.
In Jean's case, rule utilitarianism would dism

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