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Please don't ever stop making them. I have no hot flashes or night sweats. Active and passive euthanasia. The dagger in his heart killed him," we wouldn't think this an adequate moral argument either. The stock is trading at a PE ratio of Please download one of our supported browsers.
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Switching off a respirator requires someone to carry out the action of throwing the switch. If the patient dies as a result of the doctor switching off the respirator then although it's certainly true that the patient dies from lung cancer or whatever , it's also true that the immediate cause of their death is the switching off of the breathing machine. Some mostly philosophers go even further and say that active euthanasia is morally better because it can be quicker and cleaner, and it may be less painful for the patient.
This is one of the classic ideas in ethics. It says that there is a moral difference between carrying out an action, and merely omitting to carry out an action.
The doctrine that it makes an ethical difference whether an agent actively intervenes to bring about a result, or omits to act in circumstances in which it is foreseen that as a result of the omission the same result occurs.
Thus suppose I wish you dead, if I act to bring about your death I am a murderer, but if I happily discover you in danger of death, and fail to act to save you, I am not acting, and therefore, according to the doctrine, not a murderer.
The philosopher James Rachels has an argument that shows that the distinction between acts and omissions is not as helpful as it looks. Consider these two cases:. According to the doctrine of acts and omissions Smith is morally guiltier than Jones, since he actively killed the child, while Jones just allowed the boy to die. In law Smith is guilty of murder and Jones isn't guilty of anything.
I didn't do anything except just stand there and watch the child drown. I didn't kill him; I only let him die. You might argue that we can't compare the case of a doctor who is trying to do their best for their patient with Smith and Jones who are obvious villains. Of course you can't. But in most cases of right and wrong we do think that intention matters, and if we were asked, we would probably say that Smith was a worse person than Jones, because he intended to kill.
No-one would think that the doctor's reply excused him in any way. In this case letting someone die is morally very bad indeed. And if the lazy doctor defended himself to Brown's mother by saying, "I didn't kill him. The dagger in his heart killed him," we wouldn't think this an adequate moral argument either.
Suppose that the reason the doctor didn't save Brown was that he was already in the middle of saving Green, and if he left Green to save Brown, Green would die. In that case, we might think that the doctor had a good defence against accusations of unethical behaviour. James Rachels, 'Active and Passive Euthanasia'. This section is written from the presumption that there are occasions when euthanasia is morally OK. If you believe that euthanasia is always wrong, then this section is not worth reading.
Active euthanasia is morally better because it can be quicker and cleaner, and it may be less painful for the patient. Doctors faced with the problem of an incurable patient who wants to die have often felt it was morally better to withdraw treatment from a patient and let the patient die than to kill the patient perhaps with a lethal injection.
But some philosophers think that active euthanasia is in fact the morally better course of action. Let's suppose that the reason A wants to die is because he wants to stop suffering pain, and that that's the reason the doctor is willing to allow euthanasia in each case. Active euthanasia reduces the total amount of pain A suffers, and so active euthanasia should be preferred in this case.
To accept this argument we have to agree that the best action is one the which causes the greatest happiness or perhaps the least unhappiness for the patient and perhaps for the patient's relatives and carers too. Not everyone would agree that this is the right way to argue.
But this still won't satisfy some people. James Rachels has offered some other arguments that work differently. The rule that we should treat other people as we would like them to treat us also seems to support euthanasia, if we would want to be put out of our misery if we were in A's position. But this isn't necessarily so:.
One well-known ethical principle says that we should only be guided by moral principles that we would accept should be followed by everyone. If we accept that active euthanasia is wrong, then we accept as a universal rule that people should be permitted to suffer severe pain before death if that is the consequence of their disease.
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