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Moral Status Theories: Philosophy & Criteria


Decisions people make in specific situations are the product of inner beliefs and values. Evaluating these decisions from a theoretical perspective can help identify critical motivations, causal relationships, and external factors prompting certain behavioral responses. As an example of such an analysis, the case study about fetus abnormality will be discussed (Grand Canyon University, 2015). Several actors are involved, and questions are raised about distinctive perspectives on the situation that requires an unequivocal decision as to whether or not the parents should save a potentially physically and mentally disabled fetus. Assessing the case from a Christian perspective allows comparing the decisions of the parties involved from a human values ​​perspective.

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Christian View

From the standpoint of Christianity, human nature is multifaceted but prone to temptation. Ideas of the original sin and the need to follow a righteous path form the basis of this theological teaching. At the same time, one of the main concepts of Christianity is kindness to one’s neighbor. In this regard, the Christian virtue theory is the most optimal concept that reflects a view of human nature. According to Dunnington (2018), compared with classical virtue, the Christian approach involves the denial of any harm. In the case study in question, the fetus in the womb has not yet sinned and can count on protection (Grand Canyon University, 2015). As a result, human value and dignity may be considered the highest forms of existence in accordance with Christian canons, and their violation is contrary to theological ethics.

Participants’ Theories of Moral Status

While taking into account the distinctive positions of the participants in the considered case study, individual theories of moral status may be invoked to interpret their views. For instance, when evaluating Jessica’s point of view on the dilemma that has arisen, the modern Western worldview combined with biblical values ​​can be mentioned. According to Warkentin and Sawatsky (2018), in Western culture, scientific thinking often accompanies Christian ideas. In this case, Jessica has faced a severe dilemma because she cannot choose between a rational (scientific) and moral (Christian) decision (Grand Canyon University, 2015). The position of Marco, Jessica’s husband, is based on the theory of materialism. As Sheldon et al. (2018) state, this approach assumes a sober view of things in which negative well-being as the ultimate outcome of a specific solution is unacceptable. Despite the support given to his wife, Marco is guided by practical considerations and does not use Christian reasoning (Grand Canyon University, 2015). From his point of view, the unborn fetus can cease to exist, which will relieve the suffering of many interested parties.

Dr. Wilson’s position is rational equates to the scientism theory. Gasparatou (2017) views this approach to morality from a rationalistic perspective and notes that sound thinking separated from emotions and reflections is the foundation of this theory. The case study proves that Dr. Wilson operates only with facts and does not base his view on either cultural or religious values, and his proposal for abortion is rational (Grand Canyon University, 2015). Finally, Aunt Maria, another participant in the case study, adheres to the moral agency theory. The woman is religious and discourages Jessica from having an abortion by citing the inadmissibility of this procedure either from the moral or the Christian perspective. According to Myers (2016), this concept applies to situations when human empathy and participation are essential for those in need. Therefore, Aunt Maria’s position combines two approaches with an emphasis on moral support.

Impacts of Each Theory

Each of the four proposed theories is a call to specific actions. Dr. Wilson’s scientism encourages him to insist on abortion as a natural procedure for medical reasons. The woman’s risks of giving birth to an unhealthy baby are high, which is an objective reason for such an offer (Grand Canyon University, 2015). Marco’s materialism that allows asserting the man’s tendency to abortion explains his pragmatism and desire for well-being. His role may the key in Jessica’s decision due to his status as a husband (Grand Canyon University, 2015). Aunt Maria’s moral agency theory is a direct call to refuse abortion. This concept is based on compassion and morality, and the termination of pregnancy, even for a potentially sick fetus with possible physical and mental problems, is unacceptable (Grand Canyon University, 2015). Jessica’s position is the most controversial since her adherence to the modern Western worldview can influence the decision in favor of abortion, and adherence to biblical values​, conversely, can stimulate to abandon it.

Personal View

Based on the severity of the scenario and the importance of making the right decision, I would stick with the scientism approach promoted by Dr. Wilson. In the context of the case study in question, he is the only person who understands a specific problem professionally and has the appropriate qualifications. This theory can be unpleasant or even offensive as a motivator for the termination of pregnancy. However, in my practice, I would utilize this concept as a model that is based on rational morality and denies potentially negative consequences.


Dunnington, K. (2018). Humility, pride, and Christian virtue theory. Oxford University Press.

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Gasparatou, R. (2017). Scientism and scientific thinking. Science & Education, 26(7-9), 799-812. Web.

Grand Canyon University. (2015). Case study: Fetus abnormality. Web.

Myers, N. A. L. (2016). Recovery stories: An anthropological exploration of moral agency in stories of mental health recovery. Transcultural Psychiatry, 53(4), 427-444. Web.

Sheldon, K. M., Sommet, N., Corcoran, M., & Elliot, A. J. (2018). Feeling interpersonally controlled while pursuing materialistic goals: A problematic combination for moral behavior. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 44(9), 1330-1349. Web.

Warkentin, B., & Sawatsky, A. (2018). Points of discourse: Reconciling Christianity and social work through critical theory. Social Work and Christianity, 45(2), 57-67.

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