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Conjoined twins dillema

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Medical ethics can be a very tricky, subjective, delicate issue, encompassing many angles. Yet also cut and dry in some cases. Abortion and euthanasia can be polar opposites, depending on one’s life or theological/philosophical viewpoint, but if one removes the position of the individual and look solely from a neutral position, if such exists, then the puzzle changes.

If one takes the position that life is created, sacred and only the creator should intervene, then a polarizing position can be taken, and rightly so, if one’s position is correct.

If one assumes everything is entirely natural, then one can begin to define life and when it begins, and what it is prior to that, and what value it holds.

There are of course people who believe in a god and yet accept abortion and vice versa of course. There are variations.

But life and events and circumstances are fluid and not always so easy, no matter how extreme ones views are on a spectrum. Here’s one.

These form of twins are quite rare. It’s largely two people from the midriff and one below. In itself, it is not impossible to separate them, and it has been done before.

An extreme view which holds that there should never be interference or anything artificial done, then one pretty much has to reject medicine, vaccines, artificial respiration, re-starting hearts etc. I doubt anyone holds this view in theory or practise, although it does seem consistent with the idea that only God decides when it’s time. Others may take the view that it is our responsibility, given the gift of intelligence, to sustain or even extend life as much as possible.

To be fair, an alternate, naturalistic view might be similar (no interference) or the opposite, that we can or should sustain or extent life at all costs, and seek technology to do so, whilst perhaps simultaneously trying to create the defect-free, perfect lifeforms.

In the case of these twins, whilst they each have a head, brain, heart, lungs and a spine, they share 3 kidneys and only one liver, spleen and digestive tract (and one assumes, share genitalia and waste  exit.

In itself, if separated, this would mean having to introduce new body parts, necessary for life, as well as how to share/split the pelvic bones. Having only one leg would be trivial by comparison.

But one of the twins has a week heart and the other is weak, as the other parasitically draws additional blood and other functionality from the other. So, separation would almost certainly end in the imminent death of one twin, but (despite the high risks of an operation) give the remaining twin a much better chance of living a long time, albeit with a significant disability. To do nothing, will result in the very short life expectancy of both, and it if one died, it would be too late to save or separate the other.   

There are no clear answers here, and to use the excuse of doing nothing can be compared to the trolley dilemma (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trolley_problem) which the relatively new law of gang culpability - if one is merely present, you are guilty, shows.

To what extent, if any, do we consider the view of the parents, the patient(s), whether the patient(s) is able to communicate or not, one’s beliefs, one’s culture, the law of the land etc.?

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This is quite an old thread, but let's still respond!

The morality accounting for the most of the world, now, is Liberal Secular morality.

Maximising freedom and equality.

So I am going to talk from that perspective, as I currently have no objective morals standards to hold up to.

To what extent, if any, do we consider the view of the parents, the patient(s), whether the patient(s) is able to communicate or not, one’s beliefs, one’s culture, the law of the land etc.?

Let's dissect it bit by bit.

Liberal Secularist morality entails that the  has the obligation to consider the views of the parent's, the patient's, and one's beliefs, culture, AS LONG AS they don't contradict the fundemental laws of that same exact morality.

For example, Zorastrians consider Incest ( Yeah, fucking one's mother), a lovely and beautiful thing to do. Liberal Secularist morality sees nothing wrong in this (Remember: Maximising Freedom and Equality). Do or not do, no prob.

BUT, forcing your wife to cover up, head to toe, and threatning her if she doesn't, is disingenous, disgusting, and repulsive; according to the Liberal Secularist narrative. NOO! HER RIGHTS!! (Sorry for the caps, but had to add emphasis)

Liberal Secularist morality opposes everything against it. If the laws of the land aren't according to its paradigm, then fuck it. Wage War! We need to give those oppressed Iranian women their rights! (Insert Crying Emoji)


In the case of the conjoined twins, Liberal Secularism will advocate for the preservation of the life of the infants. 

Seperating them? That's a gray matter.

"Where's the consent? YOU are INFRINGING on their freedoms!", one flavor of the Liberal Ideology would say.

" Fuck the consent! They are children! They can't think for themselves.", another would say.

Boils down to the importance of consent. Turns out, it isn't that well-defined in the Liberalist paradgim. One may argue that a mother holding an infant may be immoral (sic. TJump, the athiest debater) due to lack of consent, but another may argue that consent doesn't apply here. 

In the end, the post of yours highlights that an objective moral standard is really needed. All the religions have subjective ones. Same for the modernist ones. Man-made and man-defined criterions aren't all that well spread out across the board, in such moralities. The fall of religion's legitimacy, due to science, destroyed the traditional religious moralities, and let the advent for the Psuedo Human-Saving moral code of the modern era. Enter Liberalism.




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Hi Learning Islam.

I wasn’t too clear on a lot of what you are saying here. Whether that is because it is over my head or not clear, I’m not sure.

“The morality accounting for the most of the world, now, is Liberal Secular morality. Maximising freedom and equality.”

Well that would be an interesting statistic. Could be substantiate this claim please. I’m thinking of the religious totality (3-4 billion) and communists and a range of other societies or ideologies or political views that would seem to push the Liberal quota into the minor, not major category. If you are rather saying that a secular, more liberal approach seems to be increasing in your (or a statistical) view, then fine.

Most systems seem to have crux points where there is no certain answer when put to the test with extreme scenarios. Kantian ethics, utilitarianism, person centred ethics, purpose/motive vs end/means result ethics, ethics based on scriptures or pure natural/evolutionary ideas and so on.

So the abortion dilemma (e.g. especially where we consider one life over another) can be difficult, and you rightly point out that because of such scenarios, we need to find an objective morality.

You say you don’t have one, (and neither do I). I would like one, but (according to my philosophy/understanding) science and reality doesn’t care what I want or believe, so I am stuck with not knowing unless or until science can show it.

TJump’s philosophy/thought seems to me to be the closest I have ever seen on determining a perfect morality which seems to provide answers to all questions yet posed and deals with theological and naturalistic positions. Sometimes there may only be options of involuntary impositions of will and morality (in his model) precedes humanity, sentience or life (i.e. it doesn’t start with or stem from any of these).

You don’t actually state your own position.

My view is that whilst many theistic beliefs/books/positions are incredibly cruel and encounter great suffering that modern society would not tolerate, and sometimes proceed beyond physical death and even to eternity in hell or reincarnation (with some possible good options too though, like heaven), an entirely natural position is possibly the worst of them all (and unfortunately - for that reason) this is sadly where I currently lie. No point, no hope, no end to suffering which began billions of years ago with no end in sight.

I have my own thoughts, philosophy and solutions, if only in theory. Do you have any (radical or otherwise) solutions to suffering?

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