Assisted Suicide, Morally Wrong or Your Right?
Is assisted suicide your right as a human; is it moral or ethical? First we must look at what is assisted suicide. Assisted suicide is a common term that most people know of, suicide that is facilitated by another person. (Dictionary.com) However, there are three terms that are sometimes used interchangeable when discussing assisted suicide; physician assisted suicide, assisted suicide and euthanasia. Physician assisted suicide is when a physician intentionally gives the patient the method of suicide, such as pills. Assisted suicide involves a layperson or a non-physician who is equipping the patient with the means to kill themselves. Euthanasia is when the person is directly killed by a physician or a layperson; euthanasia can be voluntary, involuntary or non-voluntary. Voluntary euthanasia is at the patients request, involuntary is against the patients request or consent and non-voluntary is without the patient’s knowledge. (Nightinggale.com) In this paper we will explore the morality and ethics of assisted suicide by comparing and investigating the Utilitarian , Kantian and Egoism ethical perspective of assisted suicide or euthanasia.
Utilitarian ethics is the theory that the starting point of ethics is the principal that everyone, humans and creatures alike, want to enjoy pleasures and avoid suffering. Starting from this principal ethics becomes a calculation of how to balance the greatest pleasure over suffering. (Waller, 2008, p. 50) According to utilitarian John Stuart Mill, “Actions are right as they tend to promote happiness, wrong as they tend to produce pain or the reverse of happiness.” (Defining Utilitarianism) Jeremy Bentham's Hedonic Calculus of utilitarian ethics states that we should always try to perform that act that leads to the greatest pleasure. “This raises the question as to how we are to quantify pleasure; if we cannot put a value on the quantity of pleasure that an act produces, then we cannot compare it to other acts in order to decide which of them we ought to perform.” (The Hedonic Calculus) The basic principal is that pleasure and pain are the only relevant factors in ethical decision making. This calculus can be used to weigh out the pleasure and pain caused different actions. In the case of a terminally ill patient that has no hope of recovery and is in constant pain, do you help them die or do nothing and let nature take its course? It seem that that the only way to achieve the greatest pleasure for the patient and minimize the most pain would be to implement euthanasia. We have to look at the type of pain that the patient is enduring as well. The type of pain caused by an advanced, terminal illness could clearly score a negative value in the pain vs. pleasure variable. The progression of the ailment would or could render the patient to be unable to enjoy any semblance of a good quality of life. Due to this diminished capacity of live there would be no emotional pleasure that could balance the physical pain that the patient would have to endure. The ability to have one’s family around could bring a measure of comfort to a patient, but if they are in unbearable pain they would not be able to effectively communicate with their loved ones and therefore not be able to rationally enjoy the comfort. In most terminally ill patients scenarios the patient’s pain increases with time till they are quite unable to deal with the pain without heavy medication that renders them unconscious. In contrast if a patient was allowed to die, his death would reduce his misery. His loved ones would also be spared the pain of watching their loved one suffer through immense prolonged pain. There would also be the added factor of opening up room for more treatable patients in the hospital. The family’s resources would not be depleted on a patient with no hope of recovery or palatable quality of life. It is important to understand that...
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