2nd half notes - James Rachels: Active and Passive...

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James Rachels: Active and Passive Euthanasia - The supposed moral distinction: it is sometimes morally permissible to allow a patient to die, but never to take any direct action designed to kill a patient - Rachels urges a reconsideration of this view - euthanasia→ “good death” -claims killing and letting die is same Cancer Patient - consider the cancer patient who will die after several days of extreme suffering. Treatment will extend his life but also his suffering - To require extra says of suffering is contray to the “humanitarian impulse that prompts the decision not to prolong his life in the first place.” Down’s syndrome - some babies born with Down’s syndrome have an intestinal obstruction and sometimes parents with hold medical treatment → baby dies - in this case, active euthanasia would be preferable to passive euthanasia → passive seems very inhumane - is this ethically permissible → is either permissible 2 nd Consideration - The conventional doctrine leads to life and death decisions being made on irrelevant grounds - consider the Down’s syndrome baby case. Whether or not a baby has an intestinal blockage should not affect whether the baby lives of dies Is killing worse than letting die? -consider the bathtub case with the drowning nephew. Rachels claims there is no moral difference between killing and letting die in this case - most cases of killing are worse than cases of letting die but this is because of other differences in the cases and not the mere fact of killing v. letting die An argument in favor of conventional view - in one case the doctor does nothing. In the other case he or she does something - response : in passive euthanasia, the doctor does do something → He lets the patient die! - Rachels says there’s no difference Steinbock: The Intentional termination of Life (‘79) - claim: the American medical association does not rely on a moral distinction between killing and letting die. - in forbidding the intentional termination of life the AMA position rejects both active and passive euthanasia 2 situations in which failure to treat is not intentionally letting die 1. patients right to refuse treatment - this right does not entail the right to demand help in ending one’s own life
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- it may simply stem from interest to avoid illegitimate interference, not from right to die. 2. when treatment is futile. This can explain what “extraordinary” refers to.
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This note was uploaded on 04/17/2008 for the course PHIL 103 taught by Professor Singer during the Spring '08 term at University of Delaware.

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2nd half notes - James Rachels: Active and Passive...

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