PHI 413 Case Study on Moral Status

PHI 413 Case Study on Moral Status

PHI 413 Case Study on Moral Status

Moral status of individuals entails the deployment of ethical principles in the consideration of the importance of living things and their value concerning their life and living. In evaluation of theories of moral status, theorists advance that life is equal irrespective of living things under consideration (Brown, 2018). However, others have a contrary approach and place hierarchies or consideration levels for moral standing. Beckwith and Thornton (2020) identify five unique perspectives on the moral status and each aspect entails certain elements that act as a measure to ascertain the moral status of any creature. These include cognitive elements, human characteristics, sentience, moral agency, and relationships. The purpose of this paper is to explore the Christian belief concerning the nature of human person and examine theories applicable to the case study to ascertain the moral status of the fetus.

Christian View on the Nature of Human Persons and Moral Theory It Aligns

Christians define human person as man and women created by God in His image. Christians believe that human person entails the body, soul, and mind. They advance that the spiritual soul makes the body which is created by matter to become a living entity. Further, human persons have intrinsic value since their body is the soul and God’s temple. Christians also advance that human life is sacred and starts at conception. Further, individual’s identity is considered as the result of being a person and instead their acts of consciousness, intelligence and freedom (Brown, 2018). The Christian view on the nature of human persons implies that human beings, right from conception, have full moral status by virtue of their creation based on God’s image without any considerations on other aspects like cognition status. The implication is that human beings, irrespective of their age and social status have moral abilities because of their inherent nature and creation.

The Christian perspective resonates more with the human properties theory which is a religious philosophical model. The model asserts that only human beings possess moral status among other living organisms. Imperatively, all creations, including animals and plants, exist to serve man’s interests and aspects. The theory asserts that human beings acquire this full moral status upon their conception in the womb where they become alive (Müller, 2020b). The implication is that both a fetus and a grown up human person share same moral status and cognitive functions. The Christian view asserts that human beings are self-awareness and understand time, the past, and even the future. Based on these cognitive properties and abilities, individuals have the freedom and capacity to participate in meaningful deeds. The theory is connected to the inherent human value and dignity as it illustrates that human beings are superior to all creatures and their dignity is intrinsic upon conception. Human life is sacred and enjoys full moral status from the beginning.

Theories Used by Jessica, Marco, Maria and Dr. Wilson in the Case

The case study entails a fetus who will be born with a deformity because it will lack limbs, and has a probability of having Down Syndrome. The implication is that there is a high possibility of the child having mental health challenges with cognitive deficiencies. Based on this situation, the individuals in the case study employ diverse theories to make their decisions and perspectives. Jessica and her aunt, Maria subscribe to the theory of human properties as a religious philosophical approach. Accordingly, they believe that the fetus has full moral status from its conception irrespective of its physical and mental deficiencies that it may have or develop at birth (Colgrove, 2019). For instance, Jessica, based on her religious background knows that life is sacred and a gift from God. She is conscious of the mental and physical challenges that the infant will have but believes that all life is a sacred gift from God. Jessica also uses the moral agency theory as she needs to make a determination on the status of the fetus despite its challenges. Aunt Maria is religious and cannot entertain any idea of terminating the pregnancy and the fetus. She advises Jessica to think about her relationship with the fetus as the mother and God as the giver of life (Blackshaw & Rodger, 2021). Despite the medical evidence, she encourages Jessica to keep the pregnancy and play her role as a “mother.”

PHI 413 Case Study on Moral Status
PHI 413 Case Study on Moral Status

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Marco uses relationship theory and believes that Jessica is a moral agent who should make a decision without any coercion. Marcos asserts that he shall support Jessica based on any decision that she makes concerning the pregnancy. Marco considers the effects of having the child with all these challenges, especially their economic and social wellbeing (Milliken, 2018). However, he asserts that he shall accept any decision that Jessica makes regarding the status of the fetus. On his part, Dr. Wilson is a medical practitioner whose suggestions and recommendations are based on the scientific approaches or evidence. Dr. Wilson holds the cognitive properties theory which suggests that something or an individual attains moral status when they demonstrate a certain level of awareness and rationality. However, a fetus does not illustrate rationality or awareness and can be terminated based on this model. The physician exhibits this theory when he enlightens the family about every possible solution to the case and the benefits accrued from each decision.

Effects of Theories on their Recommendations

            These theories influence the suggestions and perspectives of each individual in this case (Colgrove, 2019). For instance, the moral agency theory sways Marco’s decision to support Jessica while the relationship theory influences Maria’s approach to the issue of terminating the pregnancy. She asserts that it is wrong and focuses on persuading Jessica to keep the pregnancy irrespective of the risks involved. The theory of cognitive properties influences Dr. Wilson’s decisions and recommendations about the termination of the pregnancy (Müller, 2020). The use of this theory by the doctor is based on the scientific knowledge that he possesses about fetal abnormalities and the implications that it will bring to the family.

Theory I Align With

The human properties theory is the most agreeable of the theories used by the individuals as it asserts that moral status begins at conception. I agree with this theory because of my Christian worldview and as a health care provider whose first duty is to protect and preserve life, especially when such life does not endanger the health of the mother (Surovell, 2018). While I believe that moral status should be offered to people or things that have cognitive abilities, I disagree that the fetus should be terminated on that basis alone. It should be offered a chance to live and enjoy whatever freedom the infant will bring to the world. God has a purpose for giving Jessica and Marco the child with deformities and possible Down syndrome.


Christians assert that human persons can comprehend, possess and make decisions independently, even when still fetuses in their mothers’ wombs. Their view aligns with the human properties theory and a bit of cognitive theory’s aspects. All people have cognition based on their level of development. In this case study, the four persons use different ethical theories to affirm the moral status of the fetus. These theories also influence their decisions and recommendations concerning the fetus with deformity.


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