This paper considers the problem that arises when the number of patients who need a resource exceeds the supply. An initial decision-making model is proposed that uses two essential criteria, medical prognosis and the priority of life-threatening situations. The model is then subjected to the criticism that it is grotesque to ignore questions relating to the value of, for example, a productive mother over against an aged recluse, and to treat them as having equal rights to access. It is argued that this criticism need not be an expression of prejudice but may reflect a defendable view in which utilitarian considerations enter into the selection process provided that certain fundamental, or 'deontological' rights are observed for all. In the light of the discussion the model is modified in order to contain both a non-utilitarian feature that stresses the intrinsic importance of all persons, and a utilitarian feature that can allow one, in certain circumstances, to take consequences into account, especially those that follow from the 'irreplaceability' of some people.
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