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Euthanasia (OCR exam board)
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Euthanasia (OCR exam board)


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  • 1. Euthanasia Main types
  • 2. What is Euthanasia • Greek ‘eu’ meaning ‘easy’ and ‘thanatos’ meaning ‘death.’ = easy death • Intentional premature ending of another person’s life Either: • Patient consents to it = voluntary • Patient does not request e.g. in a coma = non voluntary
  • 3. Passive/ Active euthanasia • By direct means – active euthanasia e.g. lethal injection – passive euthanasia e.g. withholding medicine, life support • James Rachels saw no distinction between active euthanasia and passive euthanasia. • He believed passive euthanasia was worse as it is cruel and the process of dying may be long and drawn out. • Argument from Proportionality: suffering of illness vs. suffering/ pain of death.
  • 4. Personhood • Personhood: what separates a human being from a person? • If someone is in a persistent vegetative state (PVS) are they still a person? • Some argue that someone in a PVS is still human but not entirely a person so euthanasia is a logical conclusion. • The problem is where is the line drawn? • If we distinguish between human and person and permit euthanasia on this basis: if you are an incomplete person (cant talk, walk, blink …) does this mean euthanasia is acceptable?
  • 5. Diane Pretty British woman denied the right to die. Suffered Motor Neurone Disease Argues that she should be allowed to die with dignity. “The law has taken all my rights away.” We all have the right to life – does this also mean we have human right to death?
  • 6. Slippery Slope? • Many fear that if euthanasia was made legal then the ‘slippery slope’ would happen • Value of human life will decrease based on economics (Saving NHS/family money) and personal convenience. • However Helga Kuhse challenges the ‘slippery slope’ argument • Situation in the Netherlands is not following the example of Nazi Germany in making some lives valueless for reason other than mercy or respect. • (Utilitarian bioethicist, was the president of the World Federation of Right to Die Societies)
  • 7. For Euthanasia However Daniel Maguire : •Important to respect and value life but should not be obliged to prolong it in every situation. •Reject that God alone has the power over life and death •If God alone decides time of death does this mean we are no more than God's property? •We intervene to save life and preserve it there is no real difference between ending life and preserving it
  • 8. Against Euthanasia • Germain Grisez and Joseph Boyle stress the importance of personhood • Reject view that one can cease to be a person and yet be bodily alive • A person in PVS has not lost what makes them a person – humanity and personhood are one and bodily life is good within itself. • Euthanasia is against the basic good of life.
  • 9. Peter Singer – quality of life • Sanctity of life ethic needs to collapse and a new ethic develop • People now believe that a person with a low quality of life can judge for themselves to want to end their own life.
  • 10. Euthanasia Main Arguments
  • 11. Utilitarianism • Bentham (Act):- more pain to person and family to keep alive = euthanasia acceptable. • More happiness created if resources e.g. hospitals beds and money used to help others. • Applies hedonic calculus to all situations • Organ donation? • Inheritance? • Mill (Rule): - can someone in PVS experience higher pleasures? • Principle of Utility: focuses on happiness of patient/ family.. • Links to Golden Rule: -Treat others…..
  • 12. Utilitarianism Singer: Euthanasia is based on preferences of individuals so if the individual wanted euthanasia ‘preference utilitarianism’ would support this. Wants to reduce pain rather than maximise happiness This view would support euthanasia. R.M. Hare: put yourself in others shoes – if you were in that situation what would you want?
  • 13. Kant Duty of a doctor to preserve life : Hippocratic oath “I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel” ... The Hippocratic Oath Categorical Imperative: First formulation – universalizability what happens if everyone that wanted euthanasia was allowed it universally? 1.Lying Promise: Hippocratic oath 2.Suicide: Assisted Suicide 3.Refraining from helping others: can euthanasia not be seen as a way to help one another? Euthanasia used as a means to getting inheritance/ save medical bills/ NHS money
  • 14. Natural Law • Preservation of life = euthanasia goes against this • Does allow for patient to refuse treatment. • Doctrine of Double effect can be applied (e.g morphine) • Life support machine = unnatural – God is taking away life that we are keeping alive on support machine • Does this mean that all medicine/ interventions that keeps us alive are unnatural? E.g. Pace makers • This is in line with Preservation of life • However Natural Law argues that we are given freewill and God given ability to Reason – are Doctors not using their reason to preserve life (intention good to create life support machines) = natural progression
  • 15. ChristianSituation Ethics: Joseph Fletcher – agape – what is the most loving thing to do? Golden Rule: treat others as you want to be treated yourself Absolute views– Old Testament – Decalogue “Do not murder.” Relative views: Jesus' teachings of forgiveness, love, mercy “Mercy killing?” Beatitudes (Matthew) – Blessed are the merciful. All life is sacred: Imego Dei (made in the image of God) with a ‘Spark of Divinity’. Hospices available to help ease suffering Pope said that to cause death in this way was “a grave violation of the law of God.” – link to Natural Law