Class Note for PHIL 164 at UMass(4)
Class Note for PHIL 164 at UMass(4)
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Date Created: 02/06/15
Medical Ethics 032409 Phil 1643 Spring 09 l Instructor Kristoffer Ahlstrom leayrtmpyzarnmamedn l httppeopleumassedukahlstro164 ACTIVE AND PASSIVE EUTIIANASIA Here are a couple of distinctions Active Euthanasia Passive Euthanasia Vannlay A patient is asking to die and a doctor goes A patient is asking to die and a doctor decides to ahead and kills her wit7170M treatment leading to the patient s death Nanivannlay A patient eg someone in a PVS or a new A patient eg someone in a PVS or a newborn is born is unable to ask for death but the doc unable to ask for death but the doctor deems the tor deems the patient s life not worth living patient s life not worth living and Willi701d treat and goes ahead and kills the patient ment leading to the patient s death Innannlay A person asks no to be killed but the doctor A person asks no to be killed but the doctor goes goes ahead and kills her anyway ahead and Willi701d treatment leading to the pa tient s death As before we will nalbe concerned with involuntary euthanasia or what we would call Innrder in common parlance We will only be concerned with voluntary and nonivoluntary euthanasia THE CONVENTIONAL D OCTRINE Clearly there is a difference between active and passive euthanasia In one case someone is killing someone in the other someone is letting someone die But is this a Maray relevant distinction Take the following statement from the American Medical Association in 1973 The intentional termination of the life of one human being by anotherimercy killingiis contrary to that for which the medical profession stands and is contrary to the policy of the American Medical Association The cessai tion of the employment of extraordinary means to prolong the life of the body when there is irrefutable evidence that biological death is imminent is the decision of the patient andor his immediate family The advice and judg7 ment of the physician should be freely available to the patient andor his immediate family So here is the idea The Conventional Doctrine It is one thing to kill someone it is quite another to let someone die and while the latter sometimes is morally permissible the former never is James Rachels has four objections against to doctrine FIRST OBJECTION WHATE MORE HUMANEP Rachels first objection to the conventional doctrine is that it would seem that active euthanasia sometimes is a more linnzane option than passive euthanasia Remember a case discussed earlier Rej A brainidamaged premature baby At five months he still had dif culty breathing without a ventilator was paralyzed appeared to be blind and likely to become deaf In addition it was unlikely that he would ever be able to sit up or hold his head up Doctors were able to perform passive infanticide without any legal repercussions It is unclear if performing active infanticide ie active nonivoluntary euthanasia would be treated as equally permissr ble in the eyes of the law Still what is more humane Here are our options 1 Pamz39ve Eulianasia Stand by while the baby dies from dehydration and infection 2 Aime Bill7517151521 End its suffering with a simple injection Rachels point is exactly that the latter is clearly more human than the former SECOND OBJECTION IRRELEVAN T GROUNDS Take the case of Baby Doe Baby Doe Suffered from Down syndrome typically associated with lower levels ofIQ Baby Doe also suffered from an un7 formed esophagus The blockage resulting from the unformed esophagus could have been taken care of by a fairly simple surgical procedure However the doctors and parents agreed to not go ahead with the procedure and in7 stead let the infant die This is another instance ofpas sive non7voluntary infanticide But notice how the decision is made ifbased on the conventional doctrine The only reason the doctors and parents Wtdlet Baby Doe die was because of the blockage That is if Baby Doe had not had a blockage they would have had to perform active infanticide But that s impermissi7 ble on the conventional doctrine In other words the decision to kill Baby Doe was made no on the basis on the fact that is suffered from Downs but on the fact that it had a blockage that could be easily be fixed But that s a perfectly irrelevant ground for killing someone THIRD OBJECTION A MORALLY IRRELEVANT DISTINCTION Consider the following scenario Smith ones Smith stands to gain a large inheritance if anything should Exactly like the case of Smith except for the fact that as happen to his six7year7old cousin One evening while the Jones enters the bathroom his cousin slips hits his head child is taking his bath Smith sneaks into the bathroom and falls face down in the waterJones is ready to push the and drowns the child and then arranges things so that it child s head back ifnecessary but it turns out that it is will look like an accident not Smith killed the childJones merely let it die If there is a morally relevant distinction between killing and merely let7 ting die we would take Smith s actions to be morally impermissible andJones actions to be less so But do we Isn t what really counts the inlmtz39om of Smith andJones If so there s no moral difference between the two cases FOURTH OBJECTION DOES THE DOCTRINE HAVE ANYTHING GOING FOR IT One reason that the conventional doctrine may seem plausible is the fact that most Mimi killings are more reprehensible than most cases oflet ting die But when we think about cases such as those of Smith andJones we realize that what is bad about most cases involving people killing each other is no the mere fact that someone is being killed but the 7110117 ames in which they are being killed More specifically we should look at the following kinds of factors 7 Did the person killing do so out ofpersonal gain or humanitarian concerns 7 Did or did not the person killed want to die 7 Did or did not the person killed live a life that was worth living
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