As I need to do the Thinking Skills Assessment for Oxford application, I need some help with the essay section.
I have done one practice from 2008, and hoped I might get some feedback on it from you guys. Is my way of arguing and thinking what a TSA is testing?
The question stem is: When, if ever, is forgiveness wrong?
‘To forgive’ is to relinquish all negative feelings towards a person who has committed an injustice to you. For forgiveness to be ‘wrong’ I mean it will produce disadvantageous or detrimental consequences for a greater number of people than not forgiving would.
This essay will highlight an example that illustrates a case in which forgiveness would be wrong. I am aware that consequences are not the only determinant of the moral value of an action, but I do not believe analysing the intention, or nature of forgiveness itself, will lead to an objective answer on whether it’s right or wrong. This is because individual reasons to forgive range from straightforward to complex, and sometimes people are not even conscious of why they forgive, so it is smarter to look to at forgiveness empirically, or objectively, that is through its consequences. Therefore that is how I will argue my case, that sometimes forgiveness is wrong.
Imagine a doctor has actively caused the premature death of an elderly patient under the guise of placing them on a ‘care pathway’. The care pathway supposedly provides the best possible quality of care for dying patients in the last hours or days before death, but this elderly patient was in fact not dying, and could have recovered. In court, charged by the hospital with malpractice, the family of this elderly patient are going to forgive the doctor. Their reason is unclear, perhaps their religion encourages forgiveness, or they wanted their family member to die in order to save money on private hospital funds. Either way, the family knows that forgiving the doctor will allow him to return to work where he will likely kill again, as suggested by his lack of remorse and merciless attitude towards “patients who lack purpose”.
Most people would agree that by forgiving him, the family are undoubtedly facilitating future pain and possibly murder. Therefore, it is wrong to forgive him.
Some may disagree, and offer slightly less intuitive but nonetheless true defenses of this act of forgiveness. A mercy killing may be the dirty work that families would like, but cannot do themselves out of moral obligation to the relative. This would mean what the doctor does is an actual benefit to a greater number of people. However, this is not a valid defense because inference alone is an unreliable cognitive process. Therefore forgiving the doctor and allowing him to work would not lead to the right consequences.
Another objection may be that killing elderly patients frees up bed space for other patients. This however goes against our intuition about equality. No life is less or more valuable than another.
To conclude, in proving that forgiveness is in some cases wrong, all I needed was one example of this. I have argued using the case of forgiving the murderous doctor, and believe it is sufficient in proving that forgiveness is wrong sometimes.
How do you think you'll do?