Utilitarian and deontological approaches are similar in that they are both used for determining what actions of a human being are either right or wrong. Beyond this determination, the methods are very different: utilitarian (consequentialist) reasoning is associated with judging the consequences of specific actions; however, deontological reasoning determines whether an effort is good or bad based on the reason for doing the work, regardless of the values that may result. The Transplant Case serves to effectively differentiate between the utilitarian and deontological approaches: A utilitarian will not regard it morally wrong to sacrifice one healthy person to save five people even though it can be ethically wrong to do this. Utilitarians have been criticized for overlooking individual rights in such cases (stating that sacrificing one person’s life in place of five is a better option if no other options are available). Deontologists, however, will look at whether moral duties and rights conflict with the act; therefore, if a patient is sacrificed without his or her consent, such an action is considered wrong and immoral.
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Similar to the Trolley Case, the ethical dilemma with the transplant was built on the implication that a moral wrong is already in place, and choosing a direction is a matter of psychological viewpoint. A utilitarian will disagree with a deontologist considering the lives of five patients as more valuable than one life. In contrast, a deontologist will disagree with the violation of human rights and sacrificing a person without his or her consent. Because inaction is not a solution, in this case, either choice on the doctor’s part can be considered unethical and morally wrong.