In the first semester of our second term, we had studied an interesting subject called Medical and Society. It is a very thought-provoking subject because it is a combination of many fields such as economy, sociology, law and anthropology. After going through the entire course, I learnt valuable lessons that I want to share with you friends out there.
Firstly, the course is meaningful because it provides a thought-provoking insight on philosophical questions such as is human life qualitative or quantitative. Is the life of one person worth more than the life of five? A good example is the question on train tracks which left a lasting impression on me. The question as goes: If the train brakes are malfunctioning and towards the front there are five workers on the track and they did not notice you and imagine that on another track, there is only one person working and what you can do is you can switch the path of the train to kill that one guy or to remain on the track and kill the five workers, how would we choose?
This is an example of a dilemma. Many of us would say that killing one person is better off than sacrificing five, but if we always say that life has infinite worth, what is the difference between infinity and five infinities? Furthermore, Kant says that we should never use humans as a way of method but should always view humans as our objective and in such a scenario, switching to the track with only one person meant that we are viewing humans as a tool to be sacrificed and not as an objective to be saved. Such philosophical questions sometimes do not bring any right and wrong answers. Sometimes, even the idea of fate comes into play. Some say that the train should not switch tracks because it is the fate of the five to die since everything occurs in such a way as if it seemed that the five workers are predestined to lose their lives in such an accident. Through evaluating such dilemma, we learnt more about decisions that we face, especially when it comes to dealing with patients in the future. Should we continue to allow terminally ill patients with no hope of cure to use up one of the hospital beds or should we free up the hospital bed to someone else who is in dire needs and has hopes of being treated? This is the same moral dilemma that medical professionals face everyday and there is really no right and wrong answer to such questions. What we can do is to make use of what we learnt during lessons, whether it by Kantian school of thought or Jeremy Bentham’s preach on maximizing happiness, or even practical thinking to make the best decision.
I enjoy this lesson for it brought to me attention on the various questions that we would face in the future, but I have a very important suggestion that I think that now is too early for us to really feel for such scenarios and we can never really comprehend what is the working system in hospitals etc. I would rather hope that such a subject can be shifted to the later part of our medical education when we have undergone clinical practices and then, we can probably understand more and enjoy the lessons more. This is my humble input regarding this course.