Rachel's Active And Passive Euthanasia By Rachels

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In “Active and Passive Euthanasia”, author Rachels challenges the notion that there exists a moral difference between a doctor who deliberately terminates the life of a terminally ill patient or euthanizes him versus one who achieves the same result by simply withholding treatment. The first case is referred to as the “active” case while the second is referred to as the “passive” case. Such a notion, argues Rachels, is artificial i.e. choosing one case over the other is not better or worse in terms of morality. According to Rachels, the major deciding factor in determining the morality of a route of euthanasia is the physician’s intention. Regardless of whether or not the doctor chooses to pursue the active or passive route, the intention to perform euthanasia in order to prevent any more futile pain for an already dying patient remains constant. Therefore, if one accepts that euthanasia is morally permissible, one cannot say to a doctor who intends to perform such a procedure that he is a better or worse person morally for choosing one route over the other. Several objections can be raised to this point of view such as the fact that the passive case is to be encouraged because actively euthanizing a person would be easily likened to murder while the passive…show more content…
Clearly, Mr. Smith is meant to represent the doctor who pursues the active case of euthanasia for his patient while Mr. Jones is meant to represent the passive. From a moral standpoint, this representation is meant to show that only the intention (in the doctors’ cases--euthanasia) matters. A doctor who pursues the active case fully intends to terminate the life of his patient just as much as the doctor who pursues the passive case. Therefore, the former should not be seen as more morally righteous or less morally righteous than the latter. With this simple analogy, Rachels has successfully established the artificial nature of the active/passive debate on

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