In the television show M*A*S*H, Colonel Lacy continues to populate the operating room through his recklessness in combat and disregard for human life. Hawkeye decides to take matters into his own hands by performing an unnecessary operation on Colonel Lacy in order to remove him from battle. In Hawkeye’s eyes, taking Lacy out of the war would save the lives of many soldiers.

  • To what extent do you feel Hawkeye is justified in using the battalion commander as a means toward what he deems to be a “good” end (saving soldiers’ lives)?
  • To what extent do you feel Hawkeye was right in his moral position?
  • Do you feel, in this case, that the end justified the means?
  • Explain your views to justify your reasoning.

In two paragraphs or more, create your post by answering the questions in a scholarly manner using the textbook and/or outside resources. If using outside sources, it is important that your sources are credible. Acceptable sources come from the following: the library, .org, .mil, .gov, .edu. Wikipedia, or any other “open” sources, are not to be used within collegiate writing. Within your posting, include any in-paragraph citations, and reference the text at the end.

After your initial posting, respond in a scholarly manner to two of your classmates’ posts.

Demonstrate more depth of thought than simply stating “I agree” or “You are wrong.” Your responses to your classmates should be well-thought-out, scholarly, informative, and delivered in a non-threatening matter. Opinions are welcome, but remember to always back up your opinions with scholarly research.

Reply 1: Matthew Hollen

I don’t believe there is enough back story to definitively state whether or not Hawkeye was justified in performing an unnecessary operation on Colonel Lucy. On one side, Hawkeye swore an oath to the medical community of “do no harm” meaning that he is breaking his oath by performing an unnecessary surgery with the intent to injury another person. On the other side, which is where the backstory is crucial, if Hawkeye expressed his concerns to Colonel Lucy’s superiors and filed grievances with the military that went ignored, I then wouldn’t fault Hawkeye for taking matters into his own hands. If a man is a serial killer but the police refuse to act as the man is a rich politician and a civilian takes matters into his own hands and kills the serial killer, are they not justified in doing so to prevent the premature deaths of countless other people?

This type of moral thinking is known as utilitarianism, in which one person acts, in what they believe to be, the best interest of everyone involved. Countless lives would benefit from Colonel Lucy being taken out of the war at first, but were his efforts crucial in ending the war early? Did taking Colonel Lucy out of the war extend the length of the war which means many more will die? It is impossible to know how many lives would have been save either way.

Thiroux, J.P., & Krasemann, K.W. (2015). Ethics theory and practice, updated eleventh edition. Boston, MA: Pearson Education Inc.

Reply 2: Adriane Alexander

Hello everyone,

Even though I never watched M*A*S*H*, I think Hawkeye’s moral decision to conduct surgery on Lacy to help save more lives during war was in his best interest. Being a surgeon in the war and a doctor who is there to help save lives, he felt that by doing this surgery would save Lacy’s life than having Lacy die at war. Meaning that Hawkeye is in the profession of helping people, is he in this profession for his own self-interest to make a judgment call to perform harm on a person to save a person’s life.

I believe that Hawkeye was right to make this decision just to save a life, when you look at the act utilitarianism theory it states that ” everyone should perform that act which will bring about the greatest amount of good over bad for everyone affected by the act”(Thiroux &Krasemann, p.25). Hawkeye acted in the good by performing the surgery to get Lacy out of the war.

Jacques P. Thiroux & Keith W. Krasemann-Ethics Theory and Practice, Eleventh Edition, 2017

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