Brock And Velleman Case Study

1172 Words 5 Pages
Timothée Guichoux
Contemporary Moral Issues
Essay#1-Question 3
Opposing Brock and Velleman on the moral permissibility of a right to die

Euthanasia, or the act of killing (active euthanasia), or permitting (passive euthanasia), the death of a patient, is a practice that goes back to Ancient Age and that was dealt by authors such as Socrates or Plato. However, the debate about the moral permissibility of such things as euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, in which the patient ends his/her life with drugs provided by a physician but self-administered, is still dividing moral thinkers. We will examine the arguments of texts by Dan Brock and David Velleman to answer the following question: How does our approach to the concept of dignity
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Brock mentions that “A central aspect of human dignity lies in people's capacity to direct their lives”. The concept of “individual self-determination” is thus strongly linked to dignity. This former principle makes that given the plurality of patients’ cases, they should all be granted the right to choose for their death. Also, for Brock the individual is the only one who can decide whether his/her life is still a benefit or a “burden”. To support his defense of active euthanasia and assisted suicide, Brock takes a consequentialist approach and argues that there is no morally significant difference between a patient choosing to forego “life-sustaining treatment”, meaning the patient voluntary chooses for passive euthanasia, and active euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide. As there is a “consensus” on the first practice, then the former should also be granted as right. We may fundamentally disagree on this point in the name of the Doctrine of Doing and Allowing that stipulates that there is a morally significant distinction between these practices. However, Brock’s thesis may still stand because of the individual interest-based approach of dignity, that argues that in the name of self-determination, one can choose what is better for him up to choosing …show more content…
Velleman does not completely morally forbid a right to die. In cases in which “a person cannot sustain both life and dignity, his death may indeed be morally justified”. These cases occur when pain is unbearable, meaning that it has reached a degree where it is “destructive not just of one's well-being but of oneself.” The issue is these cases is that the agent is not rational anymore. The risk here is for death to be imposed on the patient whereas he/she would have disagreed if conscious. A right to die is thus morally permissible in cases that conciliate the patient’s loss of dignity with a rationale decision-making power. It would be very limited, with cases like this one: a patient that suffers from a degenerative disease consciously signs a directive saying he/she agrees to get active euthanasia or assisted suicide once he/she has reached a point where the unsustainability of pain removes his/her dignity. Claiming a right to die should thus be prospective and operated under very special circumstances. Non-voluntary and involuntary euthanasia is thus morally

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