The right to end one’s own life
Euthanasia is described as the intentionally killing by act or omission of a dependent human being for his or her alleged benefit. Euthanasia is frowned upon by society because it is deemed unethical to intentionally take one’s own life regardless of what life has to throw at them. In today’s society, individuals have now started realizing that deciding to take one’s own life is a personal choice they can make and should not be restricted by moral or social laws from doing so. Depending on which theory (Kantianism/Utilitarianism), one can come to a conclusion if they support euthanasia or not. If one has the right to preserve their life, they certainly have to right take away their life. Euthanasia is a personal choice that’s should be freely made as long as the decision is made when the individual is in the right state of mind. The theory of Kantianism teaches that individual should be treated as ends and never to a means to an end. Kantianism puts a greater emphasis on an action and not the results of the action (Maxim). For Kant, individuals to act are to act to the Maxim the same way they would act if it was a universal law. This then for euthanasia would mean an individual should assist in killing all those who ask for their assistance. Putting this into a universal law would not work simply due to the fact that it would lead to the mass killing of those who may or may not actually want to die. This would just lead to the death of people by simply saying I want to die, I don’t want to live anymore, I wish I was dead, or anything along those lines. Those who support Kantianism would say if one person commits euthanasia, then everyone in the same situation should also do it. Everyone is different, the act of committing suicide cannot be universalized because each individual differences. The other side of Kantianism requires us to treat others as end would mean that if one decides to assist another in suicide they should do so simply because it is the right thing to do. They should not do so because of pity, anger or any external or internal factors but simply because it is the right thing to do. This then put the topic of euthanasia is in the situation where if one chooses to ends his/her own life, everyone in the same situation should be able to do so. It becomes then universal that if one does not want to live anymore can simply commit suicide and for those who choose to assist other in suicide should do so because it’s the right thing to do and not as a result of an overall goal. The second theory which relates to euthanasia is utilitarianism. This theory “holds that actions are right in proportion as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce the reverse of happiness.”(Mills, p.169). Happiness is pleasure that is intended and the absence of pain; by unhappiness, pain and the absence of pleasure. This theory can be used to support the right to commit suicide simply because of living brings individuals pain and through death they achieve happiness. Denying one the right to commit suicide prolongs their suffering and goes against utilitarianism. For the better good of the individual and for their overall happiness, followers of this theory would agree to assist them in suicide. On the other hand, one can also argue that ending the person’s life will bring grief to their family and friends. Other followers can also use this argument to go against euthanasia. They may achieve happiness from death but those around them will grieve over their death. Depending on if we focus on the best interest of the individual or those around them, utilitarianism can support or go against euthanasia. The issues of euthanasia were greatly agued by both Patrick Nowell-Smith and E.W Keyserlingk. In The Right to Die, Nowell-Smith argued that if we agree that “everyone has the right to life, it follows at once that we have the right to die.”(Nowell-Smith, p.97). He argues that those who...
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