Social and Individual Interest Conflicts
One of the continuing, unresolved problems in medical ethics is the conflict between micro-ethics and macro-ethics, or individual and social interest conflicts. The individual, as a subsystem of the general social system, interacts with all other individuals in a precarious balance (controlled state or homeostasis) whose result is the social system. Not only do various individual needs and interests conflict with each other, but the specific needs of an individual (subsystem) can seriously conflict with maintaining the balance of the global system. One of the major problems in ethics (and politics) is the question of how we choose between these very different needs and who does the choosing. We know, for example, that complex feedback mechanisms in biological systems routinely function to sacrifice subsystems in order to maintain homeostasis. Shock in a complex organism is a good example of certain built-in physiological valuations of what is expendable in a trauma situation.
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