On a TV show, an army surgeon performed an unnecessary operation on a battalion commander merely to remove him from battle during the time he would need to recuperate from the surgery. As a result of over-aggressiveness, the battalion commander had an abnormally high casualty rate among his men, and the surgeon knew that by performing the operation he would probably save the lives of hundreds of soldiers who otherwise would have been victims of the commander’s eagerness. A fellow surgeon counseled him that it was unethical to operate on a healthy body even under those circumstances. But the operating surgeon, feeling that more good than bad would come out of his action, performed the operation anyway. To what extent do you feel that the surgeon is justified in using the battalion commander as a means toward what he deems to be a “good” end, that is, saving soldiers’ lives?
To what extent is the other surgeon justified in his nonconsequentialist rule that doctors should never knowingly perform unnecessary operations?