Thursday, July 17, 2014

The violinist

Judith Jarvis Thomson went in for her routine quarterly checkup. Next thing she knew, she woke up in the operating room, as the anesthesiologist was prepping her surgery. 

Thomson: What am I doing here? (looking confused and afraid)
Surgeon: We're prepping you for your organ transplant.
Thomson: No one told me I needed an organ transplant.
Surgeon: Oh, it's not for you. It's for him (gesturing to a patient on the operating table beside her)
Thomson: Who's that?
Surgeon: Don't you recognize him? That's Jascha Heifetz. The world-renown virtuoso violinist. He needs a new heart. And you're the lucky donor!
Thomson: That's outrageous. I didn't consent to this!
Surgeon: It's for the common good. 
Thomson: I'm a famous bioethicist. The hospital ethics committee would never agree to this.
Surgeon: Actually, the ethics committee was convinced that the life of a great violinist outweighed the life of a philosophy prof. With all due respect, philosophy profs. are a dime a dozen, but Heifetz is unique and irreplaceable. Speaking for myself, I'm much rather hear him play the Brahms violin concerto than read one of your essays.
Thomson: That's subjective.
Surgeon: Well, there's a fringe benefit: your liver, lungs, kidneys, and pancreas will be parceled out to other needy patients. That's five for the price of one. Quite a deal, if you ask me. 

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