Euthanasia

 

Objective: What is Euthanasia?

¨      Lit.  "good death" euthanasia come from the Greek roots eu- meaning well or good and thanatos, death

¨      What counts as a good death?

¨      One we have control over?

¨      One sudden and unexpected?

¨      Probably not one long and dragged out…

¨      Active vs. Passive euthanasia

¨      Passive euthanasia generally refers either to the withholding or the discontinuation of medical treatment, allowing a medical condition to cause death

¨      Active euthanasia generally refers to the administration of a lethal drug or some other means to cause death

¨      Also there is physician-assisted suicide (e.g. Dr. Jack Kevorkian)

¨      Other relevant distinctions

¨      Voluntary - Involuntary

¨      Ordinary measures - extraordinary measures

¨      Intended vs. foreseen effects (e.g. the administration of pain medication when a sufficient dose to alleviate pain will also have the effect of killing the patient)

 

Objective: Moral Judgments and Euthanasia

¨      Consequentialist considerations

¨      Individual case vs. general rule

¨      Personal control

¨      Others affected

¨      Nonconsequentialist considerations

¨      Personal autonomy

¨      Loss of rational capacity, depression, etc. influencing decisions

¨      Active vs. passive euthanasia

¨      Ordinary vs. extraordinary measures


¨      Infant euthanasia

¨      Who should decide

¨      On what basis

 

Objective: J. Gay-Williams - The Wrongfulness of Euthanasia

¨      The argument from nature

¨      The essential nature and goal of humans (and all living things) is to live

¨      Euthanasia acts contrary to that nature

¨      The argument from self-interest

¨      Death is final and irreversible

¨      Mistaken diagnoses are possible

¨      Experimental procedures might work

¨      Spontaneous remission sometimes happens

¨      Knowing that we can take our life might incline us to give up too easily

¨      The argument from practical effects

¨      Euthanasia might alter the commitment of doctors and nurses to saving lives

¨      Euthanasia is a slippery slope - it could lead to nonvoluntary euthanasia, directed euthanasia as a part of social policy, etc.

 

Objective: James Rachels - Active and Passive Euthanasia

¨      The AMA's position on euthanasia could lead to severe moral dilemmas for medical personnel

¨      Perhaps, active euthanasia is the more preferable option, if it is to be allowed at all

¨      The distinction between active and passive euthanasia leads to life and death decisions being made on irrelevant grounds

¨      E.g. Downs' syndrome children allowed to die due to intestinal blockage, when such blockages are easily treatable (and would be in any other infant)

¨      There is no significant moral difference between killing and letting die