Euthanasia and Biomedical Ethics

Topics: Abortion, Kill, Euthanasia Pages: 3 (1248 words) Published: August 2, 2011
Question 1

To first do no harm is the Hippocratic Oath often taken by healthcare professionals around the globe; however, the subject of active versus passive euthanasia to allow chronically ill patients the right to die with dignity has sparked moral controversy among world-renowned philosophers for decades. James Rachels, Winston Nesbitt, and Roy W. Perrett are just three philosophers who wrote and spoke openly about the topic of euthanasia and biomedical ethics. Rachels and Perrett were adamant in their belief that the moral distinction between killing (active euthanasia) and allowing to die (passive euthanasia) was nonexistent. Rachels felt strongly that one was no worse than the other and that statements by the American Medical Association to support one method over the other should be eliminated. Perrett agreed and added that death by either commission or omission opposes the preservation of human life. In the example of the bathtub case, Smith and Jones are both two greedy men who stand to gain a large sum of money once their nephew passes away. In Scenario A, Smith decides to drown the child and make it seem like an accident. In Scenario B, Jones sees the child drowning after hitting his head and accidentally falling into the tub but does nothing but stand by and watch. According to the philosophy of Rachels and Perrett, both were irresponsible and morally reprehensible acts, and the end result was the same…death. Finally, in numerous published articles Rachels even went on to say that while they can be assessed the same, the act of killing was in fact often more humane than allowing someone to suffer a slow demise due to lack of treatment or failure to render aid. In direct contrast to the aforementioned beliefs, philosopher Winston Nesbitt disagreed with the two men. He argued that killing is indeed worse than allowing one to die. According to Nesbitt, the moral distinction lies within the issues of motive and intent. In the example of the two...
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