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Lecture 8

PHIL 110B Lecture 8: Week 3 - PHIL 110B

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Patricia Marino

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PHIL 110B – Week 3 Euthanasia - Rachels  Bringing or allowing death of person for their own good, to relieve suffering o Active Euthanasia – doing something that deliberately causes the person to die o Passive Euthanasia – allowing a person to die, for example by withholding treatment or removing it altogether o Assisted Suicide – aiding a person to kill themselves o Voluntary Euthanasia – person expresses a wish to die o Non-Voluntary Euthanasia – when a person cannot make a decision or cannot make their desires known, eg. An infant or someone in a coma o Involuntary Euthanasia – when the person expresses a wish not to die but is killed anyway  Passive Euthanasia is legal, active euthanasia is illegal and considered murder  Is there a difference between the two? o Is there a moral difference between killing and letting die? o Some think it is, to let die is to fail to act whereas to kill is to take action and murder o Rachels challenges this o He argues that there is no difference between the doctrine that passive euthanasia is better than active euthanasia o AMA says “it is alright to make decisions about treatment, but doctors can not kill patients”  Letting patients die may be morally worse than actively killing them because: o It may take the patient longer to die if treatment is withheld o They may suffer more than if they would be killed actively o Active is preferable to passive o A patient who has an ongoing problem that is not killing them, treatment is based on illness that will cause death o Passive - It causes suffering, medical professionals suffer as well as they have to observe it o It would be much better in such a case to have the death happen quickly instead of prolonging it  Decision making about life and death o We assume that passive euthanasia is okay, so bad decision making can occur such as letting a down’s syndrome baby die because they have a curable disease simply because they have down’s syndrome o That since passive is seen as better, it is okay to allow babies (that you in general would not like to live) to die simply because they are being left to die and not being killed  Killing worse than letting die? o There is no moral difference o The outcome is the same in the end o Killing is not inherently worse than letting someone die o Instances of killing are often worse than instances of letting die, but not because it is an act of killing but because of things associated (cause pain, destroy reputation) o Why do we think that killing is worse?  There are other things going on with most killings, and that in some cases that most killings are worse than letting die because some people want to purposely inflict pain onto people  Your intentions during a killing may indeed be worse than during letting someone die because during a killing, you may want to do bad things to someone along with killing them (ruin their reputation)  But, in fact, the actual fact of it being killing does not make it worse than letting someone die  Kantian Challenge – it is not the consequences of an act that matter, but rather what the act consists of o Killing a person fails to value them as ends-in-themselves o Responsibility challenge – people are especially responsible for what they do, so the moral responsibility of killing a person is different from that of letting them die  Legal analogy – legally, murder is treated different than letting die o Law recognizes killing as different from letting die  Utilitarianism and Euthanasia o No intrinsic difference between killing and letting die o Focused on consequences, as long as consequences after death are the same, it doesn’t matter how it happened o Voluntary euthanasia generally seen as permissible because it maximizes overall preference satisfaction o Their preferences count the most, as i
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