School Essay Euthanasia Should Be Allowed

School Essay Euthanasia Should Be Allowed-42
Hume did not advocate that all suicides are justified, but argued that when life is most plagued by suffering, suicide is most acceptable.(14) Other philosophers of the Age of Reason, such as John Locke and Immanuel Kant, opposed suicide. Ellington (Indianapolis: Hackett, 1993); and the discussion in Beauchamp, "Age of Reason," 206-15. page 82 WHEN DEATH IS SOUGHT consciousness at once, and put the sufferer at once to a quick and painless end."(18) Support for euthanasia at this time was animated in part by the philosophy of social Darwinism and concerns with eugenics -- improving the biological stock of the community. Tollemache asserted that euthanasia could serve the patient's interests and benefit society in appropriate cases by removing an individual who was "unhealthy, unhappy, and useless."(19) Over the course of the following decades, essays discussing euthanasia continued to appear in medical and popular journals.Locke argued that life, like liberty, represents an inalienable right, which cannot be taken from, or given away by, an individual.(15) For Kant, suicide was a paradigmatic example of an action that violates moral responsibility. Beauchamp, "An Analysis of Hume and Aquinas on Suicide," in Ethical Issues in Death and Dying, ed. Kant, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, 3d ed., trans. (17) For Kant, the fundamental moral law was expressed in the "categorical imperative": "Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law," or, in another formulation, "Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means." Ellington translation, pp. The British Parliament debated a bill to legalize euthanasia in 1936.CHAPTER 5 THE ETHICAL DEBATE page 77 The ethics of assisted suicide and euthanasia are squarely before the public eye.

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Donne acknowledged the merit of laws against suicide that discouraged the practice, but he argued that civil and common laws ordinarily admit of some exceptions, suggesting that suicide could be morally acceptable in certain cases.(13) In the eighteenth century, David Hume made the first unapologetic defense of the moral permissibility of suicide on grounds of individual autonomy and social benefit. Beauchamp, "Suicide in the Age of Reason," in Suicide and Euthanasia, ed. (11) These principles continue to influence contemporary religious and secular views about suicide. In Biathanatos, Donne acknowledges that he battled his own urge to commit suicide.

He asserted that even if a person's death would weaken the community, suicide would -------------------------------------------------------------------- (10) Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, II-II, 64; D. Amundsen, "Suicide and Early Christian Values," in Suicide and Euthanasia, ed. "Whenever any affliction assails me, me thinks I have the keys of my prison in mine own hand, and no remedy presents itself so soon to my heart as mine own sword." In Ferngren, 169.

CHAPTER 5 - THE ETHICAL DEBATE page 81 be morally permissible if the good it afforded the individual outweighed the loss to society.

Moreover, suicide would be laudatory if the person's death would benefit the group and the individual.

Many great thinkers of Western intellectual history have contributed to this -------------------------------------------------------------------- (1) Through most of this chapter, arguments are schematically presented as those of "proponents" of legalizing assistcd suicide and euthanasia and "opponents" of legalizing these practices.

Each category groups together diverse views in order to provide an overview of a debate marked by complex and nuanced positions.

The word "euthanasia" derives from Greek, although as used in ancient Greece, the term meant simply "good death," not the practice of killing a person for benevolent motives.(4) In ancient Greece, euthanasia was not practiced, and suicide itself was generally disfavored.(5) Some Greek philosophers, however, argued that suicide would be acceptable under exceptional circumstances.

Plato, for example, believed that suicide was generally cowardly and unjust but that it could be an ethically acceptable act if an individual had an immoral and incorrigible character, had committed a disgraceful action, or had lost control over his or her actions due to grief or suffering.(6) ---------------------------------------------------------------------- (2) It is notable that the current debate about assisted suicide, even among academic commentators, has drawn so little from this rich history. Brody (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1989), 1. CHAPTER 5 - THE ETHICAL DEBATE page 79 Unlike contemporary proponents of assisted suicide and euthanasia, who regard individual self-determination as central, Plato considered the individual's desire to live or die largely irrelevant to determining whether suicide might be an appropriate act.

Public discussion has centered on the desire for control over the timing and manner of death, amidst warnings about the potential abuse or harm of overriding society's long-standing prohibitions against assisting suicide or directly causing another person's death.

Concurrent with this public debate, but in many ways separate from it, has been the discussion of assisted suicide and euthanasia in the medical and ethical literature.


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