The parents of the infant who was to be born without a brain and thereafter live only a day or two are permitting his organs to be used to save the lives of five other children. Charles Krauthammer {op-ed, Dec. 11} opposed this, on principle, because the organs would have to be taken before the brainless infant died. It seems to me that if a principle requires five children to die unnecessarily, and without doing anything to make the doomed infant or his parents any happier, then something is wrong with the principle. Mr. Krauthammer's position also reveals that he is an ideologue, preferring to sacrifice real children rather than to modify an oversimplified principle.

A sensible person realizes that all principles that can be expressed in a statement of finite length are oversimplified. They are guidelines that may be valid most of the time but that can't be applied with complete rigidity without doing harm. Philosophers have been trying for thousands of years to formulate universally valid ethical principles, but have not yet found any they can agree on. Even the Ten Commandments have exceptions. For example, it is generally wrong to murder someone. But what if the only way you can stop a terrorist who is about to set off a bomb in a schoolroom full of children is to shoot him?

Let transplants like these take place, and deal with the other cases Mr. Krauthammer worries about one by one rather than attempting to make one rule apply to all. ROBERT HEPPE Fairfax