Essay about James Rachels 's Active And Passive Euthanasia

Essay about James Rachels 's Active And Passive Euthanasia

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James Rachels believes that active and passive euthanasia are not morally different from each other (Timmons, 2007, p.346). He uses the cases of Smith and Jones to argue against those that believe active euthanasia, the act killing someone, is morally worse than passive euthanasia, the act of letting some one die (Timmons, 2007, p.347). In the case of Smith and Jones, both of the men will acquire a large inheritance if anything were to happen to their six-year-cousins (Timmons, 2007, p.347-348). One night Smith and Jones both sneak into the bathroom while the child is in the bath, with the intention of killing him (Timmons, 2007, p.348). Smith walks into the bathroom and drowns the child, on the other hand, when Jones walks in he sees the child fall, hit his head, and drown, while he does nothing but watch (Timmons, 2007, p.348). In both of these cases the men set out to kill their cousin, the only difference being that Smith did in fact kill his cousin but Jones let him die (Timmons, 2007, p.348). Rachel concludes that there is no moral difference between killing and letting die, as in this case both Smith and Jones had set out with the intention of killing their cousin (Timmons, 2007, p.348).
Rachels applies these cases to argue that the 1973 AMA policy wrongfully assumes killing someone is morally worse compared to just letting them die (Timmons, 2007, p.348). He goes on to say that the actions of a doctor who lets a patient die and the actions of a doctor who gives a patient a lethal injection, are morally equal, as the method is not what is important (Timmons, 2007, p.348). Rachels then concludes that active euthanasia is not morally worse than passive euthanasia (Timmons, 2007, p.349).
A common argument against the beli...


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...rminal disease and second, determine if they are competent (Timmons, 2007, p.372). The decision to end ones life is left entirely up to the patient, as the physician is just there to assist.
Others argue that the physician’s job is to promote health and reduce suffering, and those such as Kass, Callahan, and Pellegrino believe that when a physician knowingly helps a patient commit suicide, they are violating their moral duty to promote health (Timmons, 2007, p.372). The defense to this is the fact that a patient with a terminal disease cannot become healthy, therefore the physician’s role now is to reduce their suffering as much as possible (Timmons, 2007, p.372-373). Opponents then comeback to say that they do agree with this except for the fact that physician-assisted suicide can’t be included, as it is in no way beneficial to the patient (Timmons, 2007, p.374).

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