The Sanctity of Life

Topics: Meaning of life, Universe, Reality Pages: 9 (4148 words) Published: September 27, 2015
Sanicty of life is the most important factor when considering euthanasia .Discuss A believer in the sanctity of life would argue that only God has the right  to give or take life as he created all humans imago dei. If someone believed this, they would argue that under no circumstances does anyone have the right to take their life, or let anyone else take their life for them. Natural law accepts the sanctity of life argument, but would also reject euthanasia due to the primary precept (which is absolute therefore cannot be broken under any circumstances) “preserve innocent life”. For instance, even in the case of Dianne Pretty who had motor neuron disease and was facing a painful death, she would not have been allowed to die, despite saying “I want to have a quick death without suffering”. Both the sanctity of life thesis and the primary precepts would stop her being autonomous. Arguably some people would say that Quality of life the idea that people should be able to enjoy intellectual activities, is perhaps the most important issue when considering euthanasia. If someone has a high quality of life many would argue that they should not be allowed to die, even if they had explicitly asked to. Their quality of life would overrule their autonomy. Certainly Singer would argue that someone with a high quality of life, for instance someone with Alzheimer’s, would not have the right to die provided they can still enjoy higher pleasures such as reading or going to the theatre. If someone has a high quality of life, surely this has to be considered, for what is the point of someone who can still engage in everyday activities dying? However, perhaps someone’s quality of life is not as important as may initially appear. Perhaps what is more important is that they have the right to be autonomous. Kant would argue that everyone should be able to make their own autonomous decisions; doing something because society wants them to is not autonomous, and neither is doing something because God tells them to. Hence, both quality of life and sanctity of life arguments are rejected. People should be able to choose whether or not they are euthanatized, but it should be an entirely individual choice. Overall, the most important factor when considering euthanasia is the person’s wishes. If that person wants to die, no matter what condition they are suffering from (if any), then they should be able to prematurely terminate their life. Explain how Bentham’s utiltarianism can be used describe the right course of action. Utilitarianism is an ethical theory which judges the rightness or wrongness of an action on its utility/usefulness, which represents the amount of pleasure of happiness caused by an action. An action is right if and only if it produces the greatest good for the greatest number. Utilitarianism is a teleological theory, hence the act itself is not of any value, rather the consequences of the act are what needs to be considered. Bentham would apply the hedonic calculus to a situation. The hedonic calculus is a system whereby the maximum utility is achieved for any situation. However, this process is very time-consuming and perhaps it would be better to use, as Mill does, a series of utility-maximising rules. The hedonic calculus of Bentham takes into account the intensity of pleasure, duration of pleasure, certainty/uncertainty, the closeness or remoteness, the chance of repeating pleasure and the purity of the pleasure. For instance, something which causes immense pleasure for a very long time and is repeatable would be very favourable in Bentham’s view - for instance a long massage or a spa treatment. The hedonic calculus could be used to weight up the morality of euthanasia. If someone, such as Tony Bland (left in a PVS after Hillsborough), would receive greater pleasure than if he was forced to carry on living, then ending his life would be permissible. However, if more people in society would be unhappy than those left happy by...
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