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Organ Transplantation and Felicific Calculus


Contemporary society faces numerous moral issues. Organ transplantation is one of those topics that attract much attention of both professionals and the representatives of the general public. Different parties argue whether this medical procedure is the best option that should turn into a common practice or immoral action that must be banned. According to utilitarianism, all actions should be conducted so that they lead to the maximum profit, causing minimum issues (“Utilitarianism”). Taking into consideration the moral problem that was identified earlier, it can be stated that organ transplantation should be treated positively if it benefits more people than it hurts. To identify if it is so, this topic should be discussed in more detail, and Bentham’s Felicific Calculus should be used to reveal the influence made by the involved parties.

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Organ transplantation provides an opportunity to extract defective organs from a person and to substitute them with healthy organs of a dying or recently dead individual. Thus, this procedure makes it possible to prolong the life of a sick human being. Utilitarianism supports organ transplantation because it makes a recipient and his family happier. Moreover, this person receives more opportunities to benefit the whole community with his/her deeds. The very provider of organs, in his/her turn, does not face any negative consequences because he/she will not survive anyway, which also means that this individual will not have a chance to benefit others. Nevertheless, a moral issue occurs because the family of a person whose organs are used maybe not willing to allow organ extraction because of religious beliefs or unwillingness to accept relative’s death (“Ethical Principles in the Allocation of Human Organs”). In this way, the happiness of those people who are in tight relationships with a donor suffers.

Bentham’s Felicific Calculus

Today, the representatives of healthcare services provide all patients with an opportunity to state whether they want to donate their organs in case of a lethal outcome. If such a decision is not made, professionals can address family members with the same question to receive their permission for transplantation. Bentham’s Felicific Calculus can reveal the effects of organ transplantation on the involved parties, showing whose interests should be in focus (Brunon-Ernst):

  • Recipient. A person who is generally healthy but may die because of one defected organ can receive an opportunity to return to a normal life if transplantation is managed successfully. He/she may die in case of surgery-associated issues.
  • Donor. It is a person who has already faced lethal outcomes or is in a vegetative state, has no chances for recovery, and will die soon. His/her body may live longer, but there is no sense in it because the mind is dead. In the case of the worst outcome, his/her body will also die.
  • Recipient’s family. They will have a chance to continue interacting with the recipient. If transplantation goes wrong or if it is not managed, they will be grieving.
  • Donor’s family. They will believe in an opportunity for a donor’s recovery or will be happy that his/her body remains the same. In the case of transplantation, they will lose their hope for better or will face moral dissatisfaction.
  • Doctors. Due to this procedure, they will have an opportunity to save one person and improve their skills. Without it, they will lose two patients.
  • Society. If the recipient survives, he/she will benefit others with his/her deeds and work. If both patients die, they will not benefit others.


Thus, it can be concluded that both utilitarianism and Bentham’s Felicific Calculus support organ transplantation. Even though this topic is often surrounded by numerous arguments, utilitarianism does not support those ideas that oppose it. Organ transplantation is expected to save a critically ill person, allowing him/her to benefit his/her family and society.

Works Cited

Brunon-Ernst, Anne. “The Felicific Calculus.” Research Gate, 2014, Web.

“Ethical Principles in the Allocation of Human Organs.” U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 2015, Web.

“Utilitarianism.” Philosophy Terms, Web.

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