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23 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back

What is euthanasia and different types ?

‘good death’

• Voluntary euthanasia- of the person’s own free will

• Involuntary euthanasia- when people are not consulted and the decision is made not in their interests but on their behalf- without reference to their own wishes

• Non-voluntary euthanasia- where somebody is in a position where they might ask for euthanasia but are unable to. Decisions made on their behalf with their wishes considered

An important consideration is that at what point does a human cease to be a person?

Some people regard suffering as a test of faith or a punishment. Jesus suffered so suffering brings us closer to him.

On the decision to switch off the life support machine if the patient is making no response and is not expected to make ant recovery who can say with any certainty that recovery is impossible?

Suicide is not illegal (Legalised in 1961) but assisted suicide is a case of this is ?

Diane Pretty:

Advanced Motor Neurone Disease

Pleaded to European court of Human rights to allow her husband to help her die with full immunity from prosecution

Was refused, died in hospice.

What is the Slippery Slope of euthanasia?

If any kind of euthanasia is permitted it would open the flood gates to removing inconvenient members of society= devaluing human life and leading to things such as eugenics.

How else could they abuse the system?

Pressuring into death

May abuse the system eg elderly relative is a financial burden may request death

Unscrupulous family wanting Inheritance and parents on severely disabled children.

What is a Living will:

Patient says exactly what treatment the do and do not want in the event of them become very ill eg not to be revived if severely brain damaged.

How can a severely disabled baby decide whether or not it should be euthanised? Surely it would be better to wait for them to be old enough to make that decision.

Natural law and euthanasia?

• precepts is ‘preservation of life’, this would fundamentally overrule euthanasia

• Life is valuable- image and likeness of God etc

• If you allow euthanasia then other forms of killing could be permissible- abortion etc which contradict the precepts of reproduction etc

What else would natural law say ?

• Death is part of the natural cycle of life- euthanasia is not a natural death

• Worshipping God requires recognising the need to prepare for a good death, a good death is not the same as an easy death and life belongs to God to give and take away

Natural law precepts applied to euthanasia

• Living in society requires the recognition that death does not only concern the individual involved

• Education of the young requires setting an example of how to bear suffering

Kantian approach to euthanasia

1st Formulation

“a system of nature of which it should be law to destroy life by means of the very feeling whose special nature it is to impel the improvement of life would contradict itself, and therefore could not exist as a system of nature”

I.e. it is impossible to improve life by destroying it

Criticism- Kant assumes that self love entails self-preservation. if our future holds nothing but misery, then isn’t it an improvement to end it without misery

Kants on euthanasia (2)

2nd Formulation

In committing suicide the suicidal person destroys his humanity/freedom as a means to reduce suffering

Therefore the suicidal person treats himself as a means to an end- suicide is therefore wrong


- if I am already dying and end my life in order to avoid suffering, am I not respecting my own humanity?

death eliminates autonomy, which Kant places as highly valuable

Kant’s argument is that if you have self-love you cannot kill yourself because? And who refutes this

as it would not improve your life but end it

o Brassington argues that self-love is not the same as preservation of one’s life. The self is not physical; suicide is not necessarily directed at the destruction of the self but at the body, which is what experiences pain. The destruction of the self is merely a foreseen but unintended consequence

Argument in favour of suicide

•​Personhood does not reside in the body- suicide therefore doesn’t treat a person as a means rather than an ends because you do not kill your personhood but your body.

•​If suicide can be permitted on these grounds then assisted suicide must also be permitted

•​In assisted suicide you treat the person as an end not a means by respecting their autonomy

Utilitarian approach to euthanasia ?

• Principle of utility- if an ‘easy death’ promotes the greatest happiness then it is permitted

Eudaimonistic and hedonistic view?

• Mills view for Eudaimonistic utilitarians: a good death is a happy death.

• Jeremy Bentham - Hedonistic utilitarians: a good death is a painless death.

In most cases, the degree of pain is so great that Bentham's theory would support euthanasia.

Why would Mill also have supported euthanasia?

he believed in the sovereignty of the individual - despite the principle of utility, if I'm harming no-one else, I can do what I please.

Mills distinction between higher and lower pleasures, which can be shown effectively in what case?

Thomas Hyde was 27 when Dr. Kevorkian helped him to die. He had ALS - For Hyde, an athletic man, the thought of never using his body again was too much. Mill would argue that if his mind were still working, Hyde should have been able to enjoy a happy life. Someone with Alzheimers would be a different story, as Mill would see little benefit in continuing with life if your mind wasn't working properly.

How did Sidgwick criticise classical utilitarianism's focus on the outcome of actions?

Sidgwick says it is not the outcome that determines whether an action was right, but the motive

• Consider the case of a doctor who ignores requests to help a cancer sufferer to die because he believes that chemotherapy has a good chance of success. He has tried to bring about the greatest good.

Singer and euthanasia ?

• Disabled infants

o Infants are not rational or self-conscious and so to kill them is permissible on the same grounds as abortion

• People in a persistent vegetative state

o No problem killing people who are in a state where they are not self-conscious, rational or autonomous and are not going to be again

Peter singer • Voluntary euthanasia?

o It is the killing of a rational, self-conscious being and is therefore different

• Active and passive euthanasia

o Rejects the doctrine of the double effect- it is the consequences which should be considered

o Passive euthanasia leads to a less easy death than active euthanasia but both reach the same outcome so the latter is preferred.

Situation Ethics and euthanasia

• the most loving thing to do may be to give someone a peaceful death.

• Situation Ethics is Personal - it puts people before rules. It is also Pragmatic, allowing us to do whatever works best in the circumstances. What is the use in keeping someone alive to suffer?

what would Situationists be worried about?

that a law that allowed euthanasia might put pressure on people who didn't want to die. They might argue that there need to be great safeguards against the misuse of any euthanasia rules.

Christian Ethics applied to euthanasia:

• Is sacred and should be protected

• thou shall not kill 10 commandments

• 'God gives and God takes away' Job

• Jesus healed sick and dying didnt kill them!

• God has a plan for everyone