Active And Passive Euthanasia Analysis

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In James Rachels’ article, “Active and Passive Euthanasia”, Rachels discusses and analyzes the moral differences between killing someone and letting someone die. He argues that killing someone is not, in itself, worse than letting someone die. James, then, supports this argument by adding several examples of cases of both active and passive euthanasia and illustrating that there is no moral difference. Both the end result and motive is the same, therefore the act is also the same. I will argue that there is, in fact, no moral difference between killing someone and intentionally letting a person die. I plan to defend this thesis by offering supporting examples and details of cases of both active and passive euthanasia.
Rachels’ first premise is, “passive euthanasia (i.e., withholding treatment) is permissible in part because it ends a patient’s suffering”. He then supports this premise by providing a quote from the American Medical Association. This quote essentially states that the intentional killing of one human being by another (in this case, active euthanasia) goes against the AMA and is therefore wrong. The cessation of necessary treatment to prolong the life of the body by the patient or the immediate family (passive euthanasia) when there is irrefutable evidence that biological death is imminent, however, is permissible. His second premise is that “active euthanasia is a more efficient and humane means to ending the patient’s suffering than passive euthanasia.” To defend this claim, Rachel gives the case of a patient with incurable throat cancer. This patient is sure to die in a matter of days even if treatment is continued. The patient does not wish to live on in agony and asks the doctor to cease treatment. The doctor ag...

... middle of paper ... the cases of Sarah and Naomi were different than the motives of a doctor in the case of active and passive euthanasia. If the goal of a doctor is to end the suffering, active euthanasia is, indeed, a quicker and therefore more humane way to do so. The objection simply argues against the concept of letting die, illustrating the differences in the motives of Mary and Sarah. The objection does not argue that killing someone is morally worse than letting someone die, nor does it make any implications as to why letting an individual die is of greater good than killing him/her. Because this objection fails in this way, it does not have an astounding effect on the argument or changes the main point. Regardless of the situation with letting an individual die, it can still be argued that is it morally equivalent to killing an individual, leaving Rachels’ argument intact.
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