PHI 413V Case Study on Moral Status

Numerous ideas have been presented, but none have satisfactorily solved the question of human genesis. Regarding humans, scientific knowledge and investigation have expanded significantly. However, there are several elements of humans that science alone cannot explain. In areas where scientific explanations are lacking, theological and philosophical beliefs are provided to compensate for the lack of knowledge.

PHI 413V Case Study on Moral Status

Religions provide distinct explanations for the origin, values, and definition of humans. Both religion and science attribute moral status to humanity. According to Shepherd (2018), a person must be susceptible to damage or wrongdoing to have moral standing. A morally significant entity should not be insulted, mistreated, or treated arbitrarily.

This article examines the supplied case study to assess the theories used to establish the moral status of the fetus and to investigate the Christian perspective on the nature of human beings. In addition, the study examines the theories utilized by the various portrayed characters to affect their suggestions.

The Christian Perspective on the Nature of Human Beings

According to the Christian faith, every person on earth was created in God’s image and likeness. The picture of humans finishes with the mystery of Christ, the ideal representation of God and the sole human and heavenly creature who reveals God to humans. The human being is one entity comprised of the mind, body, and soul. Christians should see their bodies with the same respect and esteem as God’s creation.

Christians believe in both eternal life and resurrection. In addition, a person’s identity derives from their humanity, not their acts of freedom, independence, and consciousness. Moreover, all economic, social, and political activity should be for the benefit of the people.

The cognitive characteristics hypothesis is consistent with the Christian perspective of human nature. The cognitive characteristics hypothesis assumes that every individual possesses cognition. Perception, comprehension, awareness, cognitive capacity, and memory are essential components of cognition. According to the Christian perspective, humans are conscious of the now, the past, and the future.

According to Stahl and Kilner’s (2019) cognitive characteristics hypothesis, humans have the freedom to act and engage in deliberate actions. Additionally, individuals can provide justifications for their actions. They are also capable of communication, unlike other species. This demonstrates that humans are superior to other things and have intrinsic dignity and value that must be respected (Stahl & Kilner, 2019). The hypothesis concludes that humans possess a high degree of will and reason.

Theories Used to Determine the Fetal Moral Status

In the case presented, Jessica employs the moral agency theory to determine if the fetus has moral standing. The capacity to make ethical judgments based on wrong and right is referred to as moral agency. Copeland (2021) notes that every moral agent that distinguishes between good and evil must be capable of rational thought and deliberation and liable for their actions’ consequences. Jessica is the mother and will endure the consequences of the inescapable choices.

Therefore, she will choose to determine whether the fetus will have the right to live as a baby. Based on Jessica’s intrapersonal conflict, she holds the notion of moral agency. She is divided between the sanctity of life and her desires for a better socioeconomic standing and life autonomy. The moral agency incorporates the notions of moral competency of the individual in issue and situational restrictions that influence decision-making. Similar to Jessica, Marco employs the moral agency theory. His views indicate that their expected kid with a disability might considerably strain their finances.

Maria holds the relationship theory. She demonstrates this by begging Jessica to retain the pregnancy and allowing God’s will and plan to triumph. Maria also suggests that Jessica consider her maternal obligations for the possible child. The notion of relationship in ethics is founded on the fundamental and trustworthy relationship one has with another person and is defined by mutual protection and trust as opposed to any abstraction (Matteson & Metivier, 2022).

According to the argument, the fetus has moral standing, and abortion is morally reprehensible. Dr. Wilson strengthens the perspective on cognitive qualities. According to the theory, moral standing requires a degree of rationality and awareness (Stahl & Kilner, 2019). A fetus lacks rationality and consciousness and hence can be aborted. Dr. Wilson demonstrates the principle of cognitive qualities when he informs the family of all feasible solutions for the pregnancy.

Theories that Influence Recommendations

The principle of moral agency influences Marco to endorse Jessica’s final decision. The relationships theory influences Maria’s belief that abortion is wrong and encourages Jessica to carry the pregnancy to term. Dr. Wilson emphasizes the option of abortion using the notion of cognitive characteristics.

This may be due to the physician’s scientific and medical understanding of the repercussions of carrying the pregnancy to term and living with congenital disabilities. This may be related to his scientific awareness of the significance of prenatal abnormalities and the ramifications of bringing the pregnancy to term.

The Theory I Support

In this case, the cognitive characteristics hypothesis is the most acceptable. It claims that for an entity to be accorded a moral standing, it must have volition, self-awareness, the capacity for intentional acts, thinking, and language. Beckwith and Thornton (2020). Based on the idea, I would advise Jessica to have an abortion for medical reasons. The fetus should not be granted moral dignity or status since it lacks all cognitive aptitude determinants and prerequisites.


According to Christians, humans are capable of making judgments and demonstrating comprehension in a variety of situations. The Christian perspective on humans is consistent with the cognitive properties theory, which assumes all humans possess cognition. The case study poses a problem on whether or not to terminate the pregnancy. Individual examples and analyses of various ethical decision-making theories should be used to determine the best appropriate ethical decision theory.

PHI 413V Case Study on Moral Status References

  • Beckwith, F., & Thornton, A. K. (2020, July). Moral status and the architects of principlism. In The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy: A Forum for Bioethics and Philosophy of Medicine (Vol. 45, No. 4-5, pp. 504-520). US: Oxford University Press.
  • Copeland, D. (2019). Moral Ecology in Nursing: A Pluralistic Approach. SAGE Open Nursing5, 237796081983389.
  • Matteson, M., & Metivier, C. (2022). Morality from relationships.
  • Shepherd, J. (2018). Preliminaries. In Routledge.
  • Stahl, D., & Kilner, J. (2019). The Image of God, Bioethics, and Persons with Profound Intellectual Disabilities. Journal of the Christian Institute on Disability, 6(1-2), 19-40.

PHI 413V Case Study on Moral Status Instructions

Based on “Case Study: Fetal Abnormality” and the required topic Resources, write a 750-1,000-word reflection that answers the following questions:

  1. What is the Christian view of the nature of human persons, and which theory of moral status is it compatible with? How is this related to the intrinsic human value and dignity?
  2. Which theory or theories are being used by Jessica, Marco, Maria, and Dr. Wilson to determine the moral status of the fetus? What from the case study specifically leads you to believe that they hold the theory you selected?
  3. How does the theory determine or influence each of their recommendations for action?
  4. What theory do you agree with? Why? How would that theory determine or influence the recommendation for action?

PHI 413V Case Study on Moral Status – Christian View of the Nature of Human Persons 

Christian view on the nature of human persons is that Christians believe that when a human’s physical body dies, a non-physical component of the individual lives on. This is referred to as the soul.  Christians consider that the soul is created by God and is eternal.  Christians believe that only humankind possesses souls, and the soul distinguishes them from all other living forms. The soul is also referred to as humans’ spiritual essence. Jeremiah 1:5 implies that the soul is a part of humans before they are born. “Before I made you in the womb, I knew you” (McMillan, 2019). The soul will go to the afterlife, either Heaven or Hell.

The Christian view of the nature of human persons also states that humans have a responsibility to act morally. This pertains to the concept of knowing what is right and wrong.  Only humans have these values, which distinguishes them from other beings (Stahl & Kilner, 2017). According to Christianity, God created the universe ethically and morally from the beginning. Christians further believe that because they share God’s likeness, they ought to live as per God’s purpose and design (McMillan, 2019). This includes taking care of the environment as well as their own lives and bodies, including unborn babies. They must live in a manner that honors God’s creation.

The Virtue Theory and How it is Compatible with the Nature of Human Persons

Arguably, the only moral status theory that is compatible with the nature of human persons is the virtue theory. According to virtue theory, the right thing to do in any given situation is what a good human does. Inherently, most humans want to be good individuals, especially when confronted with a moral decision (Lee, 2015). According to Aristotle, what distinguishes humans is our intellectual capacity to live in accordance with their purpose. 

As a result, good people live and act in accordance with reason and are said to be in a state of eudaimonia (McMillan, 2019). The goal of living according to reason and morality seems intuitively correct, but there is more that can be stated to make this applicable to medicine. According to Aristotle, medicine’s primary function is to better patients’ well-being (McMillan, 2019). Collaborating with the client good necessitates skills and concern for the autonomy and well-being of the patient. Good health professionals are health care professionals who do this well.

This is related to intrinsic human value and dignity. As a result, the role of medicine involves a variety of values and talents that a competent physician will possess. According to Aristotle, an action is considered right if it is the one a virtuous person would take under the same circumstances (McMillan, 2019). A virtuous physician, through the virtue theorist, will have developed a character that allows them to evaluate the type of circumstance in which they should assist through education and practice. 

Theory Or Theories Are Being Used By Jessica, Marco, Maria, and Dr. Wilson To Determine The Moral Status Of The Fetus

Jessica, a pregnant lady, and her Aunt Maria have a Christian perspective on a person’s moral status. Both Jessica and her aunt, Maria, harbor the belief that the life of an embryonic baby is precious, just as is the case with that of an infant. As Clarke and Savulescu (2021) note, women tend to employ the human properties principle, allowing them to appreciate the inherent characteristics of a person. In his argument, Lee (2004) asserts that abortion is equivalent to murder since the fetus bears the parents’ genetic code. 

Based on this assertion, abortion is unacceptable regardless of the probable health status of the unborn baby. Every human being’s life, even that of an unborn child, is valuable. From the case study, Aunt Maria seems to focus largely on her personal beliefs alongside the spiritual aspect of people’s lives. She takes solace in prayer and attempts to encourage Jessica not to have an abortion. Jessica will be unlikely to have the abortion based on her beliefs that are congruent with the theory based on human properties. She considers abortion to be murder, which she finds reprehensible.

In contrast, the ideas propagated by Dr. Wilson are heavily dependent on the theory of cognitive properties. According to Surovell (2020), when applied to determine an individual’s moral position, the model focuses on such cognitive traits as perception, reasoning, comprehension, and memory. According to Dr. Wilson, Jessica’s unborn child is a fetus with a range of genetic abnormalities, which will result in birth defects.  

As a result, abortion appears to be a medical procedure and a responsible decision taken by the, according to this viewpoint. The cognitive properties hypothesis impacts the healthcare professional’s activities, prompting the doctor to focus on convincing Jessica to agree to the medically induced abortion (Bogue & Hogan, 2020). The doctor concentrates on assisting a person with moral standing to make a responsible decision and perform the procedure that will result in the death of the fetus with no moral standing (Surovell, 2020).

Influence of the Theory on Each Recommendation

Moral theories can assist physicians in justifying and reflecting on their ethical actions. While there are certainly reasons to be skeptical about moral theories, they also have the potential to enhance critical thought on our judgments (Sumner, 2021). Rationality is defined as the belief that God created humanity as reasonable beings capable of using this unique ability to make decisions or judgments.

Ben (2014) reiterates that, unlike other living organisms, humans can think and understand. This allows people to assess acts and consequences, guided by their conscience and experience. I believe abortion is immoral as it steals away the life of an innocent child, but in the case scenario, I advocate for abortion as the quality of life of the unborn child once it is born will be poor and full of misery to both the child and parents.

PHI 413V Case Study on Moral Status References

Ben, M. C. (2014). Human dignity: A first principle. Crossway.

Bogue, D. W., & Hogan, M. (2020). Foundational Issues in Christian Spirituality and Ethics. Sharksavewriters.

Clarke, S., & Savulescu, J. (2021). Rethinking our Assumptions about Moral Status. In Rethinking Moral Status (pp. 1–20). Oxford University Press.

Lee, P. (2004). A Christian philosopher’s view of recent directions in the abortion debate. Christian Bioethics, 10(1), 7–31.

Lee, P. (2015). Moral Status and the Margins of Human Life.

McMillan, J. (2019). Moral Theory. Royalcollege.Ca.

Stahl, D., & Kilner, J. F. (2017). The image of God, bioethics, and persons with profound intellectual disabilities. Journal of the Christian Institute on Disability, 6(1–2), 19–40.

Sumner, L. W. (2021). Abortion and Moral Theory. Princeton University Press.

Surovell, J. (2020). But for the Grace of god: Abortion and cognitive disability, luck, and moral status. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice: An International Forum, 20(2), 257–277.

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