Was the use of ‘best interests’ in the case below of Tony Bland appropriate?
Create an argument either FOR or AGAINST the decision on the How well made are they?
What should we add or consider too?
What has been missed?
The concept of ‘best interests’ is often invoked to morally justify making decisions for those who are temporarily or permanently unable to exercise autonomy. Legally, the concept of best interest will ordinarily apply in emergency, life-threatening situations where a patient is unable to give consent to treatment. ‘Best interests’ is one of the basic principles of the Mental Capacity Act (2005), which states that: “An act done, or decision made, under this Act for or on behalf of a person who lacks capacity must be done, or made, in his best interests” (Section 1 (5)). Check some of the documents here (SCIE 2017) and then consider the following case: Airedale NHS Trust v Bland (1993) AC 789 HL applied the concept of ‘best interests’ in support of the withdrawal of treatment from a man in a persistent vegetative state. Tony Bland was a victim of the 1989 Hillsborough Football Stadium disaster, and medical evidence was unanimous that there was no prospect whatsoever of him ever making any recovery from his persistent vegetative state. With the agreement of his parents, the NHS Trust applied to the High Court for declarations that life-sustaining treatment (including feeding and hydration) could lawfully be discontinued and that any further medical treatment would be for the sole purpose of enabling Mr Bland to die peacefully and with dignity. The High Court agreed but the Official Solicitor, acting on behalf of Tony Bland, appealed against the decision, arguing that withholding feeding was equivalent to starving the patient to death (and thus amounted to murder or manslaughter). The case was eventually decided by the House of Lords, who accepted the majority view of the medical profession that artificial feeding and hydration could be regarded as a form of medical treatment. Treatment could be withdrawn, they stated, when its continuance was no longer in the best interests of the patient. Therefore, Tony Bland’s treatment (including feeding and hydration) could be lawfully discontinued in order to allow him to die. In this case, the question was not whether it was in Mr Bland’s best interests to die, but whether it was in his best interests to have his life prolonged by the continued provision of medical treatment. However, it is arguable whether Tony Bland actually had ‘best interests’, as he was insensate. A counter-argument is that one does not necessarily have to be aware of interests for them to be morally relevant, and therefore respect for an insensate individual should (and does) persist both prior to and following death.
Dante Alighieri played a critical role in the literature world through his poem Divine Comedy that was written in the 14th century. The poem contains Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso. The Inferno is a description of the nine circles of torment that are found on the earth. It depicts the realms of the people that have gone against the spiritual values and who, instead, have chosen bestial appetite, violence, or fraud and malice. The nine circles of hell are limbo, lust, gluttony, greed and wrath. Others are heresy, violence, fraud, and treachery. The purpose of this paper is to examine the Dante’s Inferno in the perspective of its portrayal of God’s image and the justification of hell.
In this epic poem, God is portrayed as a super being guilty of multiple weaknesses including being egotistic, unjust, and hypocritical. Dante, in this poem, depicts God as being more human than divine by challenging God’s omnipotence. Additionally, the manner in which Dante describes Hell is in full contradiction to the morals of God as written in the Bible. When god arranges Hell to flatter Himself, He commits egotism, a sin that is common among human beings (Cheney, 2016). The weakness is depicted in Limbo and on the Gate of Hell where, for instance, God sends those who do not worship Him to Hell. This implies that failure to worship Him is a sin.
God is also depicted as lacking justice in His actions thus removing the godly image. The injustice is portrayed by the manner in which the sodomites and opportunists are treated. The opportunists are subjected to banner chasing in their lives after death followed by being stung by insects and maggots. They are known to having done neither good nor bad during their lifetimes and, therefore, justice could have demanded that they be granted a neutral punishment having lived a neutral life. The sodomites are also punished unfairly by God when Brunetto Lattini is condemned to hell despite being a good leader (Babor, T. F., McGovern, T., & Robaina, K. (2017). While he commited sodomy, God chooses to ignore all the other good deeds that Brunetto did.
Finally, God is also portrayed as being hypocritical in His actions, a sin that further diminishes His godliness and makes Him more human. A case in point is when God condemns the sin of egotism and goes ahead to commit it repeatedly. Proverbs 29:23 states that “arrogance will bring your downfall, but if you are humble, you will be respected.” When Slattery condemns Dante’s human state as being weak, doubtful, and limited, he is proving God’s hypocrisy because He is also human (Verdicchio, 2015). The actions of God in Hell as portrayed by Dante are inconsistent with the Biblical literature. Both Dante and God are prone to making mistakes, something common among human beings thus making God more human.
To wrap it up, Dante portrays God is more human since He commits the same sins that humans commit: egotism, hypocrisy, and injustice. Hell is justified as being a destination for victims of the mistakes committed by God. The Hell is presented as being a totally different place as compared to what is written about it in the Bible. As a result, reading through the text gives an image of God who is prone to the very mistakes common to humans thus ripping Him off His lofty status of divine and, instead, making Him a mere human. Whether or not Dante did it intentionally is subject to debate but one thing is clear in the poem: the misconstrued notion of God is revealed to future generations.
Babor, T. F., McGovern, T., & Robaina, K. (2017). Dante’s inferno: Seven deadly sins in scientific publishing and how to avoid them. Addiction Science: A Guide for the Perplexed, 267.
Cheney, L. D. G. (2016). Illustrations for Dante’s Inferno: A Comparative Study of Sandro Botticelli, Giovanni Stradano, and Federico Zuccaro. Cultural and Religious Studies, 4(8), 487.
Verdicchio, M. (2015). Irony and Desire in Dante’s” Inferno” 27. Italica, 285-297.