PHI 413 Moral Status: Case Analysis

Sample Answer for PHI 413 Moral Status: Case Analysis Included After Question

Assessment Description

This assignment will focus on introducing you to the question of human dignity and, in particular, the Christian perspective of the intrinsic worth and value of each person. You will have the opportunity to integrate this insight with scientific and philosophical approaches that inform judgements made in health care and contrast it with secular approaches to human value and worth. The logic of human rights will be made explicit as you engage with different concepts of “moral status.”

Based on your reading of the “Case Study: Fetal Abnormality” and topic Resources, complete the “Moral Status: Case Analysis” document in a maximum of 1,000-words, in which you will analyze the case study in relation to the following:

  • Christian view of the nature of human persons, theory of moral status, intrinsic human value, and dignity
  • Theory or theories used by individuals in the case to determine the moral status
  • How each theory used determines or influences recommendations for action
  • Moral status theory personal response
  • Integration of knowledge in health care (theories, multiple ways of knowing, evidence) and knowledge from other disciplines inform and support current or future professional health care practices and judgements

Support your response using only Chapter 2 from the textbook Practicing Dignity: An Introduction to Christian Values and Decision-Making in Health Care and the Topic 2 Resource “The Image of God, Bioethics, and Persons With Profound Intellectual Disabilities.”

While APA style is not required for the body of this assignment, solid academic writing is expected, and documentation of sources should be presented using APA formatting guidelines, which can be found in the APA Style Guide, located in the Student Success Center.

This assignment uses a rubric. Please review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the expectations for successful completion.

You are required to submit this assignment to LopesWrite. A link to the LopesWrite technical support articles is located in Class Resources if you need assistance.

American Association of Colleges of Nursing Core Competencies for Professional Nursing Education
This assignment aligns with AACN Core Competencies: 1.3

A Sample Answer For the Assignment: PHI 413 Moral Status: Case Analysis

Title: PHI 413 Moral Status: Case Analysis

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.”

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.


Beckwith, F., & Thornton, A. K. (2020, July). Moral status and the architects of principlism.

The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy: A Forum for Bioethics and Philosophy of Medicine, 45(4-5): 504-520).

Blackshaw, B. P., & Rodger, D. (2021). Parental responsibilities and moral status. Journal of

            Medical Ethics, 47(3), 187-188. DOI: 10.1136/medethics-2020-106173.

Brown, M. T. (2018). The moral status of the human embryo. The Journal of Medicine and

Philosophy: A Forum for Bioethics and Philosophy of Medicine, 43(2):132-158).

Colgrove, N. (2019). Subjects of ectogenesis: are ‘gestatelings’ fetuses, newborns or neither?

 Journal of Medical Ethics, 45(11), 723-726. DOI: 10.1136/medethics-2019-105495.

Milliken, A. (2018). Refining moral agency: Insights from moral psychology and moral

            philosophy. Nursing Philosophy, 19(1), e12185.

Müller, S. (2020). Concepts and dimensions of human dignity in the Christian tradition.

Interdisciplinary Journal for Religion and Transformation in Contemporary Society, 6(1), 22-55.

Müller, G. C. (2020b). The Christian understanding of the human person. Principles.

Surovell, J. (2018). But for the Grace of God: Abortion and Cognitive Disability, Luck and

Moral Status. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice, 20(2), 257–277.

The Christian concept of imago Dei essentially describes human beings created in the image of God (White, 2022). This concept is important because in medical practice human beings all possess equal value and inherent worth (White, 2022). Bonache (2021) describes gratitude as being “hard-wired” into our being. The spiritual concept of imago Dei provides the patient, family, community the sense of value and dignity. If the nurse, healthcare provider only treats the disease versus the person as a whole, the patient may suffer feeling a sense of having extrinsic value (White, 2022). The extrinsic value only provides enough benefit until the desired benefit no longer suffices. This is why the intrinsic value of a human being is more of importance when it relates to the patient. The essentialist view of human value defines human beings as having inherently, intrinsic value, which demonstrates that human beings have value regardless of the functions they may provide (White, 2022).

            Regardless of the age, race, gender, and religion, the Christian doctrine identifies man being created in the image of God (White, 2022). Holistically, this provides nurses with a framework to treat the patient as a whole with a sense of dignity and importance. Patients can sometimes feel they’re not important if a nurse cannot provide emotional, and spiritual support when a depressing diagnosis is given. Bonache (2021) describes that human beings must balance their individuality with the relationship with God and one another. Bonache (2021) also writes that we cannot love our neighbor fully if we cannot love ourselves enough. Truly living by the word of God will provide compassion, integrity, to the field of nursing which will benefit the population.


Bohache, T. (2021). Ingratitude is not an option: Gratitude as imago Dei. Anglican Theological Review, 103(3), 298–310.

White, N.H. (2022). God, humanity, and human dignity. (In Practicing Dignity: An introduction to Christian values and decision-making in health care. URL: Grand Canyon University – Digital Resources (