Friday, November 20, 2009

What's MORAL about mammogram policy?

Rosemary Flanigan
November 20, 2009

There’s value and worth under discussion here—and that value and worth are justified by a utilitarian calculus: balancing harms over benefits. But there is no objective “harm” or “benefit” in utilitarianism. When it comes to mammograms, women in their 40’s might well determine “worth” and “value” differently.

To increase our awareness of how much of our lives are shot through with moral considerations—and how much we should be open to questioning the justification for those judgments or policies or habits that stream along with us—is a hallmark of ethical reflection.

I think of the bundles of institutional “habits” or policies that make up a healthcare organization. We assume that 98% of them can be justified—and we’d never get any work done if we were reviewing them all the time.

But that “ethical component” is integral to the “character” of the entire institution.

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