review - Be able to spell out and explain How Rachels uses...

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Be able to spell out and explain: How Rachels uses the Smith/Jones thought experiment in order to show that killing and letting die are morally equivalent Why Nesbitt doesn’t think that the Smith/Jones thought experiment shows what Rachels thinks that it shows. (A) Rachels uses the thought experiment to backup his argument (and its premises) against the AMA policy statement that states that mercy killing is wrong. His argument concludes that mercy killing (active euthanasia) and passive killing are essentially morally equivalent since both actions have the same outcome. Rachels therefore concludes that killing and letting die are also morally equivalent. (B) p.293-294 Nesbitt thinks that you don’t learn much from pairs of cases where killing and letting die are equal. He notes that in the Smith/Jones case both the outcome and motivations of individuals involved were the same. He believes that motives strongly determine whether someone is reprehensible or not. Dworkin asks why it is important that we respect the decisions of competent adults, even when we think that those decisions are not in the deciders’ best interests. He comes up with two possible explanations: the evidentiary view and the integrity view. What is ‘the evidentiary view’? Why does Dworkin reject it? What is the integrity view? If the integrity view is right, is it important that we respect the decisions of people in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease, even when we think that those decisions are not in their best interests? Why or why not? The evidentiary view is that we should respect the decisions people make for themselves because each person generally knows what is in his own best interests better than anyone else. However, seriously demented people cannot really know what is better for themselves than trained doctors, etc. Also, people do things such as smoke, which they know is bad for them, all the time – so we can’t really say that people always do what’s best for themselves! The integrity view is that people have the right to have the capacity to express ones’s own character – values, commitments, convictions, and critical & experiential interests in one’s life. He believes that we should not respect the decisions of people in the late stages of Alzheimer’s even with this view because people in the late stages of Alzheimer’s make decisions which systematically or randomly contradict one another and does not reflect a coherent sense of self and it is not able to see even short-term aims. Therefore, they have lost the capacity that autonomy protects, so we do not have to respect his decisions. Dworkin argues that we ought to carry out advance directives, even when they go against the wishes and best interests of the person in the late stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
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