Is Euthanasia Morally Permissible

Topics: Maslow's hierarchy of needs, Suicide, Personal life Pages: 6 (1989 words) Published: October 8, 2011
Is euthanasia morally permissible?

Euthanasia has been hotly debated among the general public in society for many years and it has not reached the mutual agreement in many countries yet. However, the true value of life could not be replaced by anything. If people have any wrong decision on euthanasia, it would be an irretrievable regret. I am going to analyze euthanasia with Utilitarianism, Kantian ethics, Liberalism, Confucianism and religious values. Then, I will draw a conclusion to see if euthanasia is morally permissible or not.

Have you heard about the story of Pun Chai (Tang Siu-pun)? In 2001, he had sent a letter to the Hong Kong Chief Executive and the legislators to plea to be allowed to die, thus this issue sparked a debate on euthanasia. And Now, Pun Chai changed his mind and said he wants to live, but he still believes that the choice to live or die is a human right.

Some of the patients plea to euthanasia, it is because they hope to get out of the pain from illness and treatment only. Just like what Pun Chai said in his letter, he wanted to die because he felt that he was lonesome, isolated, helpless and painful, he hoped to run away from these feelings. Death is not his desire but an escape from the reality. When there is another choice that can help him get rid of his loneliness; when his voice is heard and his feeling is cared, he is pleased with his life although he is still suffering from the same situation of illness. Therefore, the appeal to death is not actually the patients’ request by heart; this is just an expression of their emotions at that sorrow moment. Since these patients are undergoing a long therapy of treatment, there are fluctuations in their emotions. Under the influence of medicine, they may make a frustrated decision of euthanasia, which it is not appropriate to be considered seriously.

The theory of Utilitarianism, as described by one of the most influential contributors Jeremy Bentham, was "the greatest happiness or greatest felicity principle”. Some people said that euthanasia can bring happiness to the patients, and to let patients get out of pain. However, can anyone be certain that death is bringing the greatest happiness to them? Is death representing a kind of happiness to which the popular is looking forward? Will they still be happy to die if there is another way to relieve their pain and desperation? Certainly not. I think they will be much happier if they are being listened to and cared of. Pun Chai is exactly a good example. To be respected and looked after considerately; physical and psychological needs fulfilled, these bring them the greatest happiness, not the euthanasia.

Bentham also emphasized that the utility action of the person must achieve "the greatest pleasure for the greatest number", that is, it can benefit the most people. Some patients believe that euthanasia brings a large amount of happiness to them and their family. Are their families and friends happy to hear their death? Will their death bring any pleasure to the society? I don’t think so. On the other hand, if they still survive, they may bring some happiness to the society. Look at the example of Professor Stephen William Hawking, a famous theoretical physicist and cosmologist. He got amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a disease which would cost him almost all neuromuscular control. Although Hawking has this “incurable” disease, he never gives up his life. He uses his knowledge and excellent achievement in Physics and Cosmology to contribute to the society and almost the whole world is benefited. In Hong Kong, Pun Chai is another model. Now, he is a volunteer to help other disabled people like him. Also, he had complained to the government about neglecting the need of disabled people. And it is successful to strive for the welfare and additional allowance to the disabled people. This shows clearly that their survival can bring greater pleasure for the greater number than...
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