Dan Callahan's Ethical And Historical Dilemmas Of Physician Assisted Suicide

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In every state in America except Oregon and California, it is permissible to withhold treatment and let a patient die, but impermissible for a physician to take direct action to assist the patient in ending their life. Both scenarios involve a patient dying, and highlight the difference between letting a patient die and killing them. Either way, the patient is giving up all hope of a cure, medical breakthrough, miracle, or even an extended life. Dan Callahan, an advocate of keeping physician suicide illegal, highlights the metaphysical, moral, and historical arguments against physician assisted suicide that violate the integrity of the medical profession by intentionally killing. The US courts have already set precedents against physician assisted …show more content…
His argument focuses on the difference between human agency and natural agency, and that the self cannot control nature. There is a common misconception, or fantasy, between what happens that a person can control, and what is independent of their actions, and individuals try to become masters of everything outside of the self. Callahan agrees that we can intervene in nature and cure or control various diseases, but death always wins in the long term. Like many things in the world, saving a dying body is out the realm of human control, so intervening with nature prompts a larger metaphysical argument whether humans can control nature. A patient does not know what nature has in store for them in the future, and their decision on the longevity of their life might be skewed because of their bleak outlook on their life. Prematurely killing them could mean the end of a life that was meant to be …show more content…
Physicians comfort patients, not kill them, as physicians are given ‘special knowledge’ about the human body that can be used to save an individual or kill them. They are seen to have their power limited, and are only supposed to use it to cure individuals. Callahan states that the ultimate moral obligation of the physician is to act in the best interests, or welfare, of the patient. Excessive treatment can be just as harmful as inadequate treatment, because at a certain point, resistance no longer serves a patient’s welfare. The role of a doctor is to heal, and to give the right amount of treatment to the patient. Once again, a physician interfering with the dying process is interfering with nature, a process that is out of the realm of human

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