3d Printing Dilenma
The case study discusses the moral issues raised about 3D printing of human organs. According to the case study, one of the moral dilemmas is the social implications of 3D printing versus its importance in improving the quality of life of human beings. The second dilemma concerns the ethics of prolonging life beyond the current life expectancy considering issues such as overpopulation that threaten the world. In the following paper, the moral dilemmas will be discussed, and solutions identified that would ensure that the 3D printing technology is beneficial to the world.
The opponents of 3D printing of human organs do not reject the concept in totality. There is a consensus that the quality of life will be improved for all human beings. Today, people in need of organ transfer are likely to spend months or even years waiting to be matched with donors. When the need is an emergency, there is a high risk of such people dying as they wait for donors. The case study states that in countries like the UK people have to wait for organs for up to two and a half years. When it is possible to have the parts printed within a few hours, lives will be saved, and people’s quality of life improved. However, the concern is that 3D printing advances the ills of social stratification. The technology is expensive, and the rich are the only people likely to afford 3D printed body parts. A technology that advances economic and social inequality fails to achieve the goals of a universal healthcare system. While people today are divided along economic lines, such technology increases their division to the extent that the rich enjoy better health than the poor. It will undo the progress made in achieving universal healthcare. The case study argues that it will lead to the rich being selected to live longer and enjoy a higher quality of life.
The second moral dilemma concerns the benefits of increasing the age expectation of people across the world causing an issue of overpopulation and shortage of food in certain countries. Overpopulation has been occasioned by better medical solutions, allowing a higher infant survival rate and an increased life expectancy. 3D printing is a revolutionary technology that is likely to do more for life expectancy than the previous technologies. Therefore, it is likely to lead to overpopulation at a higher rate. The dangers of overpopulation may outrank the improved life expectancy. They threaten to destroy the environment which human life depends on and reduce the same life expectancy promised by 3D technologies.
Considering the inherent benefits of 3D printing of body organs, there is a need to identify a solution that preserves these benefits while eliminating the disadvantages. The first solution is to ensure that 3D printing technology is government driven rather than being driven by the private sector. While the aim of the private sector is to make profits, the goal of government is to provide services to citizens. Already governments are making steps towards the provision of universal healthcare. For instance, Medicare and Medicaid ensure that the low-income earners receive healthcare insurance at a subsidized rate. If the governments are in a position of providing 3D printed body organs using the same arrangements, they will ensure that the technology does not advance social inequality. The government’s involvement will guarantee uniform access to the technology.
The second solution lies outside 3D printing. The benefits of 3D printing must be matched with technological development in other spheres to solve the issue of overpopulation. The main concern for overpopulation is shortage of space to grow food to feed a larger population. The solution lies in the creative use of the available space. Farmers must explore the possibilities of vertical farming, especially in urban areas. They must identify ways of increasing production and growing food in the ever so small amount of space. The aim is to ensure that they do not deny people good quality of life because of food-related issues.
Overall, science needs to improve the quality of life for all living organisms and the environment. When a concept such as 3D printing of organs is identified, the technology around the concept needs to be able to support the concept in the areas where it is deficient. Therefore, issues such as social inequality and overpopulation must be dealt with in a way that does not compromise the basic principles of 3D printing.