In this paper, I will argue that both forms of euthanasia, that is, voluntary passive and voluntary active, are morally permissible. Moreover, I will explain why there must be no moral distinction between the two practicest Lastly, I will show that we needn’t adopt different policies regarding the two forms. I will adopt Dan W Brock‘s argument for voluntary active euthanasia to support my claims. Also, I will address an objection or concern that may arise in response to my argument.
In regarding this ‘counter—argument‘, I will respond with some ‘counter—claims’ to help further assist my previous claims. First off, I will explain the differences between the two forms of euthanasia. Voluntary euthanasia is the deliberate termination of a terminally ill patient’s life, by the patient’s appeal, to relieve any further suffering caused by their illness. Now, the two different forms are passive, which Is accepted and practiced, and active, which is non Voluntary passive euthanasia is when the doctor cuts off all life-sustaining treatments, passively letting the patient die.
Voluntary active euthanasia is when a doctor gives the patient a lethal dose of a drug, actively killing the patient Now, Brock states that there are two ethical values that we use to defend the permissibility of voluntary passive euthanasia; self-determination and individual well-being (Brock p, 75), He reasons that these same two points can also be used to defend the permissibility of voluntary active euthanasia. So, under Brock’s reasoning, since these values that permit euthanasia make no reference to the specific method of death, both forms of euthanasia should be permissible (assuming the patients are competent).
Self-determination, Brock states, is a “central aspect to human dignity”, because it allows people to direct their lives to “form and live in accordance with their own conception of a good life,” He extends this right of selfedetermination to the circumstances in which a person dies, by stating that many people view the ends of their lives differently, That is, many people answer the question, “Is my life still valuable?” with varying answers at varying times (Brock p. 75).
Individual well»being, Brock’s second value, can be looked at as a sort of extension of self» determination An individual uses their self-determination to determine what is in their best interest, or ‘well-being‘t Regarding the euthanasia issue, a patient determines whether continued life would be a “benefit.,,or if life has become a burden” (Brock p, 75), With a supporting argument, Brock argues that voluntary active euthanasia would not undermine the “moral center” of medicine or instill fear into patients because, like its name suggests, the patient would have to voluntarily request it, I will relate this argument to voluntary passive euthanasia to make this point clearer. Doctors already have the power to unplug patients from life sustaining treatment, so fear of doctors would not increase with the legalization of voluntary active euthanasia. Additionally, patients have no reason to be scared, because they would have to first give their consent before the doctor could do anything Furthermore, Brock states that a patient’s right to euthanasia does not translate to a doctor’s duty to perform it.
If an act of voluntary active euthanasia conflicts with a doctor‘s views, then it should be transferred to another doctor (Brock pr 76) Moreover, as my points suggest, there is no real moral difference between the two forms of euthanasia The only real differences are the modes of death, one being the direct killing of a patient, and the other being the ‘letting die’ of a patient, There is no real moral difference between killing and letting die, so there has to be no real moral difference between the two forms of euthanasia If a competent, terminally ill patient feels that it is in their best interest to end their life, then there should be no difference between active or passive euthanasia Both practices begin with the same motive, and end with the same outcomei To give an example, Tommy is mentally handicapped, and he needs to be fed every day by Billy, Suppose Billy wants to kill Tommy; he could either simply stop feeding him, or he could actively kill him Yes, technically Tommy would die due to lack of nutrients, but naturally, both methods are murder, as there is simply no evident moral difference between the two.
Essentially, it all lies in the motive. The reason a patient opts for passive euthanasia is because they feel that it is in their best interest to give up and end their suffering. Likewise, the reason a patient would opt for active euthanasia is exactly the same. Lastly, because there must be no moral distinctions between the two practices, there is not any need to adopt different policies concerning the two forms. If a patient opts for euthanasia, they should be able to opt for either active or passive, justified by the value of self-determination, Also, because there is no moral distinction between the two practices, there shouldn’t be any special cases or circumstances need for either form of euthanasia. Objection: Now that I have explained the argument for voluntary active euthanasia, I will introduce an objection that may arise in response to the argument. The strongest foreseen objection to the voluntary active euthanasia is the slippery slope argument, This argument is introduced by Stephen G. Potts in his paper, “Objections to the Institutionalization of Euthanasia.”
He proposes that once we institutionalize voluntary active euthanasia, we will slide down a ”slippery slope” towards a move to something he calls ‘nonvoluntary euthanasia’, and after that maybe even involuntary active euthanasia. His main claim with this proposition is that the acceptance of the killing of terminally ill patients will lead us down a path towards wide acceptance of different types of killings. He supports his ‘nonvoluntary‘ point by stating that there are “thousands of comatose or demented patients sustained by little more than good nursing care. They are an enormous financial and social burden“ (Potts p. 79). He supports his involuntary point by stating that, under the institutionalization of voluntary active euthanasia, we may someday grow tiresome of the burdensome, unproductive polluters of the gene pool. He notes that “We must never forget the Nazi euthanasia program”, referring to the Jewish holocaust (Potts p. 79), In defending his slippery slope argument, he represents this progression in an illustration of the purposes of medicine
First CURE, the supposed “central aim of medicine“, then CARE, the “central aim of terminal care once patients are beyond cure”, then KILL, “for those patients beyond cure and not helped by care’i Finally, he proposes that if we institutionalize KILL, we may well move on to CULL, which is “The feared result of weakening the prohibition on active euthanasia”, which are the fears of involuntary and nonvoluntary active euthanasia (Potts p. 80) Lastly, Potts goes on to state that he doesn‘t know how easy it will be to resist these slides to different forms of euthanasia once we institutionalize voluntary active euthanasia. Response: Foremost, as Dr. King stated, there is no obvious rationale for this “slide”, meaning that there is no apparent reason for believing that this slide would ever even happen. It is true that Potts understands this, as he notes that he is unsure of how easy it would be to restrict the slide, However, this admittance of Potts inescapably weakens his argument, This is because it shows that the slippery slope argument is not necessarily a credible or significant risk to the institutionalization of voluntary active euthanasia. Also, Potts’ argument is based off the assumption that there is a moral difference between voluntary active and voluntary passive euthanasia.
However, as I have argued previously, there is no real moral difference between the two. As it stands today, doctors are allowed to perform voluntary passive euthanasia. So, if patients are already essentially being killed by passive euthanasia, then according to Potts, we should already be sliding down our slippery slope. However, there is no reason to believe that we are, So again, there is no obvious reason to believe that we would if we institutionalized voluntary active euthanasia. Lastly, there are no moral relevant grounds for Potts to refer to what the Nazis did as “euthanasia.” Euthanasia is the intentional termination of a terminally ill patient’s life to relieve suffering. It is not a holocaustr Potts does not give sufficient reasons for why institutionalizing voluntary active euthanasia would lead us to a holocaust of the “unproductive polluters of the gene poolt” Killing in the euthanasia sense must be contemplated differently than all other killings. Euthanasia is nonviolent, voluntary, and used to reduce suffering. Thus, there is no reason to believe, even if the voluntary euthanasia is active, that it would lead us down a slippery slope towards involuntary and nonvoluntary euthanasia.