Immanuel Kant And John Natural Law: The Ethics Of Battlefield Mercy Killing

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A battlefield mercy killing is where a soldier kills someone because they are suffering, likely to die, or unlikely to have a high quality of life while they are on the battlefield. Battlefield mercy killings are illegal in almost every society and condemned as murder. Despite the illegality, evidence suggests that they happen and with some regularity but go unreported. In antiquity, abdominal injuries were fatal, even well into the 20th century abdominal injuries were fatal unless treated within a few hours. These injuries were also very painful, yet doctors did not see many people with these injuries. Mercy killing on the battlefield in cases of extreme suffering and fatal injuries is ethical. Through the lenses of Immanuel Kant, John …show more content…
The basic values cherished by natural law are life, procreation, knowledge, and sociability. Mercy killing would violate our natural inclination to preserve our own life. One might be quick to point out however that there are allowable exceptions in natural law theory. The first is the principle of forfeiture, which states that if someone threatens the life of another their life is forfeited. If the case were that it is an enemy combatant, an argument could be made that they had forfeited their right to life and another could take it. This leaves a nasty taste, is it really permissible to kill soldier after the fighting has ceased, because he tried to kill you in battle? Another exception may be more in line with our conscience, the principle of double effect. The first step in seeing if double effect applies is whether the act itself is good: ending someone’s suffering, check. The next step is to determine if the negative outcome (death of the soldier) is avoidable: the only way to end the suffering is killing them, check. The third step is determining if the bad outcome is the means of producing the goodness, unfortunately, this scenario fails and killing the person is how the suffering is ended. If one subscribes to a single moral philosophy with no exception, then their decision has likely already been made for

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