Value Logic

Addendum V - Case Studies

As previously indicated, Value Logic employs several steps in its ethical decision making procedure.

          Value Logic employs a simple system of symbols to create ‘equations’ which lead to a decision conclusion. In this way the concepts are labeled as C1, C2, C3, and the results (resultants) of combining concepts are labeled as R1, R2, R3, etc. To illustrate, in the statement "breaking a promise" we get:

Concept
Description
Value Dimension
Combination
Resultant
C1
the act of breaking
Extrinsic
C2
a promise
Systemic
Transposition
R1 = Et

          Breaking a promise results in a transposition, therefore it is unethical.

          Breaking a promise in order to prevent a murder, however, is more complicated. Bear in mind that the concept "murder" is a combination of the concepts "killing" and "person". The analysis now looks like this:

Concept
Description
Value Dimension
Combination
Resultant
C1
the act of breaking
Extrinsic
C2
a promise
Systemic
Transposition
R1 = Et
         
C3
killing
Extrinsic
C4
a person
Intrinsic
Transposition
R2 = It
         
C7
killing a person (murder)
R2 = I-t
C6
act of prevention
Extrinsic
Transposes the transposition
R3 = Ic
         

          When R1 (E-t) and R2 (I-t) are combined by the compositional act of prevention it transposes the transposition R1 (i.e., reverses it) producing the final resultant R3 = I-c. Therefore, breaking a promise to prevent a murder is the ethical thing to do.


 

          The following examples show how using Value Logic can help to analyze concept combinations to determine the most ethical decision in complex situations.

Case #1:    Others Do It

Step 1 = create the narrative:

          Bob, a lawyer, and Laura, a CPA, are a young married couple who financed their college educations by obtaining the maximum allowable student loans. They have two children, a Nanny, a fashionable home in the suburbs, a country club membership, and two expensive cars. The mortgage payments, living expenses and credit card payments absorb but do not exceed their combined income. Due to difficulties beyond Bob’s control, the law firm where he works has had to lay him off along with several other young members of the firm. Bob was able to relocate but at a reduced salary. Then Bob and Laura's oldest boy became ill with hepatitis. Hospitalization and expensive long term treatment were required. As a result of these events Bob and Laura had to find ways to reduce their expenses.

         Last spring they attended Bob’s college class reunion where they heard that several of his classmates were defaulting on their student loans but had not yet been penalized. While Bob and Laura were able to meet their own student loan repayments, defaulting seemed to offer some relief from their financial burden. Others were doing it, why shouldn’t they?

Step 2 = create the situation statement(s)

Default on the college loan payments.

Step 3 = determine if the act is right or wrong:

Concept
Description
Value Dimension
Combination
Resultant
C1
the act of defaulting (by Bob and Laura)
Extrinsic
C2
a loan payment (a promise)
Systemic
Transposition
R1 = Et

Step 5 = if it's not OK, determine if there is a relevant consideration:

Concept
Description
Value Dimension
Combination
Resultant
C3
the act of defaulting (by others)
Extrinsic
C4
loan payments (promises)
Systemic
Transposition
R2 = Et

In order for R2 to transpose (reverse) R1, it would have to obstruct or disvalue it. In Bob and Laura's case, R2 supports R1. Therefore R1 is still wrong. Thus, the fact that others are doing it, while marginally relevant, does not make it right for Bob and Laura to do it.

Assuming that Bob and Laura are considering defaulting only on their student loans and there are no other relevant consideration, this analysis indicates that they should decide not to default.

 

Case #2:    Abortion

Step 1 = create the narrative:

Mary Jo is a 17-year old high school senior, and 3 months pregnant. She lives in a single-parent middle-class household with her older sister Beth. Her mother died soon after Mary Jo was born. Her father is a strict, old-fashioned conservative. He loves her, but they are not very close. Most of the love and care that Mary Jo experienced, she owes to Beth. Her Dad deserves credit for raising her and seeing to her education, but she feels he is unreasonable in warning her that he will not make a home for either an illegitimate child or its mother. Mary Jo is a straight-A student, and wants to become a doctor. She's been accepted in pre-med school for the next fall term at the State University. If she has a child now, she doesn’t see how she can support the baby and herself and attend college. Her boy friend, Tom, also at the top of their high school class, says that marriage is out of the question. He has just received an appointment at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Only unmarried men and women are admitted. Mary Jo has discussed the situation with her sister Beth. Beth thinks that abortion is the answer to Mary Jo's problem. The opportunity for this procedure to be done in strict confidence is available at reasonable cost. Beth urges Mary Jo to have an abortion on the basis of her rights such as:

In resolving this controversial issue, Mary Jo has to establish whether or not a fetus is a person. This will determine whether the concept "fetus" is placed in the Extrinsic or the Intrinsic category. For the purposes of illustration, we assume that there is no law to concern Mary Jo and she has to make up her own mind. Note that Value Logic cannot do this for her.   Mary Jo did some research and, based on an article she read by two obstetricians, decided that since human life is considered over at the point of brain death it is logical to decide that the time during pregnancy when conscious human life starts is when upper brain birth begins. This occurs between the nineteenth and twenty-third week of development. Thus, Mary Jo concluded that a pre-conscious-brain-functioning fetus is vegetative, (Extrinsic), whereas a conscious brain-functioning fetus is Intrinsic.

Step 2 = create the situation statement: Abort a fetus at the pre-conscious-brain-functioning level.

Step 3 = determine if the act is right or wrong:

Concept
Description
Value Dimension
Combination
Resultant
C1
the act of killing
Extrinsic
C2
a fetus (13 weeks)
Extrinsic
Transposition
R1 = Et

Step 5 = if it's not OK, determine if there are relevant considerations.

Concept
Description
Value Dimension
Combination
Resultant
C3
the right to control
Systemic
C4
the body
Extrinsic
Composition
R2 = Ec
C5
become (go to school)
Extrinsic
C6
a doctor
Extrinsic
Composition
R3 = Ec

In this analysis, R2 and R3 transpose (reverse) R1 (Et), because the resultant R4 of combining R1 with R2 and R3 = Ec. This leads to the conclusion that abortion of a pre-conscious- brain-functioning fetus is compatible with a woman’s right to control her own body assuming that the pre-conscious-brain-functioning fetus is assigned to the Extrinsic category. Again, that assignment is the responsibility of Mary Jo. Value Logic does not make it. Rather Value Logic offers a method for how to think about the problem, not what to think.

Note that had the fetus reached the conscious brain-functioning stage of development, R1 would have been I-t instead of E-t, leading to the conclusion that abortion of a conscious brain-functioning fetus would be ethically wrong and the relevant considerations in this case do not justify it. An Extrinsic composition does not reverse an Intrinsic transposition; it can only be reversed by an Intrinsic composition.


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