Is Physician Participation For Capital Punishment? Essay

1677 Words Nov 16th, 2016 7 Pages
Society turns to physicians to heal, to comfort and to alleviate suffering. As our understanding of living organisms and technology expands, so too does the role of the physicians. Quite often, controversy emerges over the ethics of these new roles. This usually leads to legal, social and professional changes. One such controversy is physician participation in capital punishment. The underlying purpose of this essay is not to provide a stance on the subject. Rather, the purpose is to question the physicians’ role in capital punishment. Through briefly stating the purpose of medicine and the purpose of capital and exploring whether an inmate is a patient during the time of lethal injection, I argue that physicians should not participate in capital punishment. In “Regarding the end of medicine and the pursuit of health,” physician-scientist, Leon Kass argues that the goal of medicine is the preservation of health. In doing so, Kass states that there are also “false goals for medicine” (Kass, 1975, 13). These false goals include pleasure, happiness, civic or moral virtue (e.g. the prevention of crime), and the “prolongation of life or the prevention of death” (Kass, 1975, 16). Furthermore, health is defined in terms of wholeness and working-well. While Kass offers this conception of medicine and even defines health in terms of wholeness and working-well, it is not enough. The purpose of medicine is to preserve an individual’s health when possible, to care for the ailing…

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