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Euthanasia and Ethics: Kant and Stewart Mill

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The issue of euthanasia is one surrounded by much controversy. Here we will look at the moral system of Immanuel Kant and John Stewart Mill, the argument for euthanasia, and how each philosopher would respond to that argument. Immanuel Kant and John Stewart Mill have different ethical views therefore they view the issue of Euthanasia differently.
Immanuel Kant holds a deontological, or duty based, ethical view. This means that for something to have moral value it must be done from duty. The basis of this view is the categorical imperative, which Kant explains is to, “Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law” (412). We must be able to universalize the act and have no contradictions in order for it to be morally permissible. Another part of this view is the principle of humanity, which states, “Act that you use humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end, never merely as a means” (415). An act that uses someone as a means to an end is automatically immoral in Kant’s perspective. This ethical system that is the basis for Kant’s view on Euthanasia is very different from Mill’s.
John Stewart Mill has a much different ethical view that Kant. Mill is a Utilitarian, which in the book is described that, “It claims that the morality of an action is determined by how well it promotes ‘utility’, which is defined as the greatest good for the greatest number” (417). This ethical view measures the morality of an act by what the outcome is. If it promotes the greatest good for the greatest number it is moral. This is also referred to as the greatest happiness principle. Happiness being pleasure and the absence of pa...

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...e are forced to think of what we believe in. I tend to agree with some of both. I agree with Kant that no human being should be treated as a means to an end. On the other hand I also think it is part of our moral obligation to relieve suffering if possible. The way we do those things is up to each individual.

Works Cited
Battin, Margaret. "Battin: The Case for Euthanasia." Living Ethics: An Introduction. Ed. Michael Minch and Christine Weigel. Australia: Wadsworth Cengage Learning, 2009. 490-97. Print.
Kant, Immanuel. "Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals: Immanuel Kant." Fifty Readings Plus: An Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. Donald C. Abel. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 2004. 404-16. Print.
Mill, John Stewart. "Utilitarianism: John Stewart Mill." Fifty Readings Plus: An Introduction to Philosophy. Ed. Donald C. Abel. Boston, MA: McGraw-Hill, 2004. 416-25. Print.
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