Synopsis: Rachels is concerned to show that the AMA’s doctrine on euthanasia– that passive euthanasia is morally permissible while active euthanasia is. The moral distinction between active and passive euthanasia, or between “killing ” and The philosopher James Rachels has an argument that shows that the. May 19, The late philosopher James Rachels published one of the most salient pieces on the euthanasia (E) debate in the New England Journal.
|Published (Last):||3 July 2005|
|PDF File Size:||5.6 Mb|
|ePub File Size:||15.17 Mb|
|Price:||Free* [*Free Regsitration Required]|
James Rachels: “Active and Passive Euthanasia”
The distinction between passive and active euthanasia rests on the mistaken assumption that killing is worse than letting die. Or, if one thinks that it is better that such an infant not live on, what difference does it make that it happens to have an obstructed intestinal tract? A lesser evil should always be preferred to a greater evil.
No-one would think that the euthansia reply excused him in any way. They should be read as such. The Case of Smith: It is not the case that killing is morally worse than letting die. If passive euthanasia would be right in this case then the continued existence of the patient in a state of great pain must be a greater evil than their death. Return to Course Home Page. 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 CDE is true then killing is morally worse than letting die. 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. Rachels says that he can understand someone who opposes both active and passive euthanasia as immoral practices, but cannot make sense of approving of rachls and not the other.
Active and passive euthanasia.
Euthanasa if it has no defect, there is nothing we can do. And the CMA has recently recommended that doctors racheps engage in assisted suicide or active euthanasia.
This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with euthwnasia sheets CSS enabled. Jones is delighted at his good fortune, and stands by as the child drowns. His goal is to challenge the distinction. It follows that, indeed, the AMA’s policy on euthanasia is seriously misguided, which is just a nice way of saying that it is blatantly false.
The refusal of treatment to some “defective” newborns, and the subsequent death by dehydration, shows that some cases of letting die are worse than killing. Consider a familiar kind of case in which someone is dying of an incurable form of cancer.
The rule that we should treat other people as we would like them to treat us also seems to support euthanasia, if we rachelss want to be put out of our misery if we were in A’s position. If “letting die” is always immoral, then one might have a sound moral reason to object to active euthanasia, too.
Active and passive euthanasia. On this page Active and passive euthanasia Acts and omissions Preferring active to passive euthanasia Page options Print this page. The dagger in his passvie killed him,” we wouldn’t think this an adequate moral argument either. 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.
Of course you can’t.
But this isn’t necessarily so: The philosopher James Rachels has an argument that shows that the distinction between acts and omissions is not as helpful as it looks. A is dying of incurable cancer. Our goal is to prevent further unnecessary suffering. So allowing ane patient to continue to live in this state is a greater evil than causing their death.
And this is best achieved passove by letting the patient die, but by directly killing him. While the child is taking a bath one evening, Smith sneaks into the bathroom and drowns him.
James Rachels’ “Active and Passive Euthanasia”
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. A person might well not want to be killed even in this situation, if their beliefs or opinions were not against active euthanasia. But the conventional doctrine often adds a requirement of suffering before dying. So the decision whether to let the child die, or allow it to live, turns on whether the child has a congenital defect.
Either way, the patient is dead. 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.
Therefore, in many cases where it is right to let a patient die, it is also right to practice active euthanasia.