Euthanasia Is One of Those Philosophical Issues Research Paper

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Euthanasia is one of those philosophical issues that have been widely debated, without any solution in sight. One of the main reasons behind this is the many sets of principles behind each side of the debate. Against euthanasia, one might argue that human life is sacred and that it should not be left to human decision to end it. For euthanasia, on the other hand, the argument could be that human beings without hope of recovery or relief should have the autonomy to choose their fate. Specifically, the philosophies of deontology and consequentialism can be used to determine specific solutions to the dilemma of euthanasia.

Deontology

Deontology is an ethical theory first promoted by Kant, who moved away from the ideal of consequentialism in order to find a more controllable basis for ethical action. Kant's theory therefore depends upon an analysis of "input," or initial human action and the basis of this action, rather than its consequences (Kay). These actions are then ruled by a sense of duty, which in turn is determined by a certain set of rules. As such, it is an absolutist view of ethics. Regardless of consequences, ethics is dependent upon rules that cannot be broken. Not following the rules is fundamentally unethical.

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Examples of such rules include the Ten Commandments, political rules, or even less formal rules such as the rules governing a community or group. The precise content of the rules are not as important as the consensus behind them. The community or group governed by the rules all agree that the rules are valid and important in terms of maintaining a certain order and harmony in terms of interaction. The rules govern the perceived importance of interpersonal duty; where each person is obliged to fulfill certain obligations to the others.

TOPIC: Research Paper on Euthanasia Is One of Those Philosophical Issues Assignment

In this light, an argument against euthanasia is that it is against both the sanctity of life and against political and religious law to take a human life. Most societies oppose murder, and deontology in this light generally opposes euthanasia as a form of murder. Another argument against euthanasia from the deontological perspective could also be based upon rationality.

According to Kant, as explicated by Lacewing and Pascal (92), rationality is one of the most important human faculties. One might then also see suicide and indeed assisted suicide as a surrender of rationality, or indeed its removal. This is an ethical violation of the right to respect for one's rationality and indeed one's life. According to generally accepted social, political, and religious rules, euthanasia is therefore against the ethics of deontology, as it is at basis a lack of respect for the duty of preserving life for as long as possible.

In terms of deontology, a solution to the dilemma of euthanasia might then lie in the determination of rationality. Rationality is at the basis of a high quality of life, and indeed is synonymous with life itself, according to Kant's philosophy. If rationality is potentially lost, euthanasia can be allowed under deontology -- for example, a person suffering from Alzheimer's disease, or a person born without a fully functioning brain might be allowed to die. In cases where rationality is retained, but where constant pain is the main reason for voluntary euthanasia, the deontological philosophy would not allow euthanasia. The general argument is that pain medication and other substances can be used to promote a better quality of life, or at least comfort and relief, for the terminal patient.

Consequentialism

According to Ord (2), consequentialism is focused not so much upon the actions of a person as upon the goodness of the outcomes resulting from these actions. In consequentialism, then, breaking rules an laws are always permissible in cases where the outcomes might be more favorable than those of actions where rules and laws are indeed followed.

John Stuart Mill addressed the consequentialist viewpoint in his essay, Utilitarianism

(Telfer), where good consequences constitute happiness and the absence of pain. Any action with these consequences can then be regarded as good because of its consequences. According to Mill's essay, the pain in this case refers not only to physical pain, but also the absence of mental distress. Consequentialism then functions upon the principle that happiness and the absence from all kinds of distressed is minimized for the greatest amount of people involved. What this means in philosophical terms is that the "right" action promotes in the self and others a sense of self-development and fosters the rational nature of human beings.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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