beth 271 paper 2

beth 271 paper 2 - Mark Einsiedel BETH 271 March 22, 2010...

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Mark Einsiedel BETH 271 March 22, 2010 Dr. Hyun The Moral Difference – or lack thereof – in Voluntary Euthanasia The distinctions between passive euthanasia, physician assisted suicide (PAS), and active euthanasia are not as clear cut as some people may believe. Most people believe that actively killing someone is morally worse than passively letting someone die. However, they do not differ since both have the same outcome: the death of the patient on humanitarian grounds. In the case of passive euthanasia, a competent patient decides that he or she does not or no longer wishes to receive life-prolonging treatment. Passive euthanasia is a legal, and generally agreed upon moral, right of all patients. PAS is more often debated morally than passive euthanasia, due mainly to the fact that it uses a means other than a patient’s health problem(s) to kill them. In PAS, a physician provides the means for the patients to kill themselves, and it is the patient who ultimately initiates the death sequence. Lastly, active euthanasia is distinct from the other two in that someone other than the patient, that being the physician, both provides the means for death and activates the death sequence. It is conventional practice that passive euthanasia is permissible, PAS is permissible in limited areas, and active euthanasia is never permissible. However, I feel as though this doctrine leads to decisions regarding killing versus letting die that are irrelevant and that the distinction between killing and letting die itself has no moral importance. Therefore, it is my opinion that if passive euthanasia is to be considered morally permissible, then PAS and active euthanasia must be as well, and in what follows, I will set out some of the relevant arguments and urge others to reconsider their views on the matter.
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Regarding passive euthanasia and its moral permissibility, an important distinction must be made. It is not correct for one to say or believe that in passive euthanasia the physician does nothing, for he does do one critical thing: he lets the patient die. [8] "Letting the patient die" is undoubtedly different, in some respects, than other conventional types of actions - principally in that “letting the patient die” is the type of action that a physician performs by not performing certain other actions. For instance, a physician may “let a patient die” by not providing medication, but for any purpose of moral assessment, this action is an action nonetheless. The physician’s decision to “let the patient die” can be questioned morally in the same way that a physician’s decision to kill the patient would be subject to such moral questioning. Both of the physician’s decisions can be assessed as wise or unwise, caring or killing, morally right or wrong. If a physician had the means of healing a curable patient and deliberately let the patient die, the physician would undoubtedly be to blame and be subject to moral scrutiny, just as he would be to blame if the physician had needlessly killed the patient. Subsequent charges against
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beth 271 paper 2 - Mark Einsiedel BETH 271 March 22, 2010...

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