“Hello, is this the Oregon hospital? Yes, I live in Mexico, and I need a liver right away. When can I schedule a time to come to the US and get a transplant? That sounds perfect! See you soon!”
The post about an Oregon hospital being publicly shamed into accepting an illegal immigrant for a potential liver transplant attracted the varies and thoughtful response here I hoped for. I have an unusual gut reaction to it, for me at least: I am sure that my position that the hospital is wrong (and that the ACLU is very wrong to bully the hospital into changing its policy) is ethically correct, but I feel badly about it anyway.
Here is what I told myself to make me feel better: Would anyone argue that the same woman would have any right or claim to an organ transplant from an Oregon clinic if she lived in Mexico? Would the ACLU dare argue that she had a right to be placed on a waiting list? Would even an Oregon hospital think twice before rejecting such a request? Would the ACLU be able to create a public outcry against her rejection? Let’s see: No, no, no, and “you’ve got to be kidding.”
Yet logically and ethically, I see that alternate universe version of Silvia Lesama-Santos being more deserving of a transplant, and receiving a lifesaving organ that a citizen in similar need would receive otherwise, than the actual Silvia. The actual Silvia, unlike my theoretical one, broke our laws. The actual Silvia has already benefited unjustly from doing so. My compassion for the theoretical Silvia is not reduced by my objection to her conduct and disrespect for our immigration laws; given the choice between whether to give a liver to her or the real Silvia, I would choose her, and it wouldn’t be a hard choice. She is more deserving than the real Silvia, unless one reasons that breaking out laws and continuing to avoid accountability for doing so over 30 years is a positive accomplishment. And yet the alternate Silvia has no right to a liver at all.
There. I feel better now.
Here is JutGory’s Comment of the Day on the post,,Proposition: An Illegal Immigrant Is Entitled To Receive A Life-Saving Organ Transplant That Otherwise Would Go To A U.S. Citizen In Similar Need: Continue reading
There must be something wrong with me, for I don’t think this proposition is ethically obvious at all. In fact, I think it’s probably dead wrong.
Here is the story:
Silvia Lesama-Santos, 46, is a mother of four who has lived illegally here for at least 30 years. The transplant program at the Oregon Health and Science University denied her request to receive a new liver, telling her that she did “not have documentation of lawful presence or immigration documentation,” which was required for her to be eligible for a transplant.
The ACLU of Oregon took on Lesama-Santos as a cause, and publicized her plight. The Oregon ACLU’s head, Mat dos Santos, called the hospital’s policy “cruel and inhumane.”
The bad publicity, in turn, quickly forced the hospital to change its policy. “It was brought to our attention this evening that an archaic transplant policy was preventing an undocumented individual from being evaluated at OHSU,” the school said in a statement this week. “Upon learning of the policy, OHSU leaders acted immediately and terminated the policy. We deeply regret the pain this has caused the family. OHSU is committed to serving our entire community — all are welcome at OHSU, and this policy does not reflect our values.”
Flushed with success, the ACLU is planning “to ask other hospitals to change similar policies,” ask, in this case, meaning “coerce.” Continue reading
I realized it was time to post the definitive Ethics Alarms List of Debate Cheats and Fallacies after once again having to point out to an indignant commenter that calling him a jerk based on a jerkish comment was not an ad hominem attack, and that saying idiotic things on-line carry that risk. Here, at last, is the current list, adapted from multiple sources. As with the Rationalizations List, with which this occasionally overlaps, I invite additions. Participants here should feel free to refer to the various fallacious arguments by number, and to apply critically them to my posts as well as the comments of others. Am I immune from occasionally falling into one or more of these bad debate techniques and rhetorical habits? No. The other reason I wanted to get the list up was to reinforce my own efforts to be persuasive without being manipulative.
1. Ad Hominem Attack
An ad hominem attack means that one is substituting the character or quality of an adversary’s thought for the argument the adversary is presenting. This is unfair, as well as misleading. “Your argument is invalid because you are a crook, a fool, an idiot” is an ad hominem attack. It is not an ad hominem attack to prove an argument idiotic, and conclude, on the basis of signature significance, (which requires that an argument be so idiotic that no non-idiot would conceive such a thing and dare express it),that the one making the argument is an idiot, since only an idiot would make such an argument. Confusing the true ad hominem attack with the latter is a useful deflection by poor advocates of the fair consequence of their advocacy. Idiots can still hold valid positions, and disproving the position has nothing to do with proving they are idiots.
1 a. The Toxic Introduction.
A more subtle application of the ad hominem attack is The Toxic Introduction, where the argument of another is introduced by noting a negative quality about the individual. The effect is to undermine the argument before it has even been heard, by its association with a less than impressive advocate.
2. Butch’s Stratagem (The Straw Man)