Mercy Killing, By John Stuart Mill, Seneca, And Natural Law Theorists

2051 Words Apr 28th, 2016 9 Pages
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 Stuart Mill, Seneca, and natural law theorists, it is clear that this is a divisive issue. In order to better understand the ethics of these mercy killings, we can put ourselves in their place and argue what they would say. If one evaluates this dilemma from the framework of cultural relativism, mercy killings would be ethically allowable. A recent poll from the University of California-Berkeley Institute for Governmental Studies found that a majority of people thought that terminally ill people should be able to commit assisted suicide. While this is not the same as the case at hand, they share the same foundational element: suffering people who are doomed to die; and, it is not unreasonable to extrapolate that many of these people…

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