StarrH.E. - Absolute Rules and Duty: Do Consequences...

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Absolute Rules and Duty: Do Consequences Matter? Hunter Starr Word Count = 1,102
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Abstract Thesis : The absolute prohibition against active euthanasia is inconsistent because it allows in practice what it denies in theory, a consideration of consequences. Purpose : The goal of this paper is to make a case for the value of moral philosophy in the attempt to achieve an understanding on the issues surrounding euthanasia. Strategy : This paper begins with a reflection on the role of moral theory in assessing the moral issue of euthanasia in medical ethics, mainly those concerning euthanasia. I contend that the legality of euthanasia under Anglo-American law is founded on a non-consequentialist deontological prohibition against the intentional taking of innocent life that can not be overruled by a consequetntialist line of reasoning. The traditional ethic allows distinctions between the coupled concepts of: a) acts and omissions, and b) killing and letting die, to ensure that different modes of passive euthanasia are permitted. The rule based stance further employs the doctrine of double effect as another technique for substantiating certain end of life decisions. With an emphasis on consequences, the doctrine of double effect is considered along with the two coupled concepts. Background Exegesis
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Philosophers have started to question the moral significance of the killing/letting die distinction. Generally killing someone involves doing something to the person causing his/her death. Death caused by drowning, poisoning are clear examples of killing. Letting die usually involves refraining from doing something that could save a person in mortal danger: not operating, not calling the police. However, there can be cases of killing in which the murderer does nothing (i.e. killing by starving to death), and there can be cases of letting die which involve doing something (i.e. hiding the lifeline that could save the drowning person). Determining the moral relevance of the distinction is difficult. Should the fact that a certain type of behavior is
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This note was uploaded on 04/20/2008 for the course PHIL 313 taught by Professor Greene during the Spring '08 term at University of Delaware.

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StarrH.E. - Absolute Rules and Duty: Do Consequences...

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