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PHL 223 Week 3

by: Paola Araque

PHL 223 Week 3 PHL 223

Paola Araque
GPA 3.29

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These notes cover the lecture from the third week of Dr. Rachels' Medical Ethics Class. It discusses active and passive euthanasia, and opinions of Dr. Rachels as well as Gay-Williams
Medical Ethics
Stuart Rachels
Class Notes
medical ethics
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This 2 page Class Notes was uploaded by Paola Araque on Saturday February 6, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PHL 223 at University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa taught by Stuart Rachels in Summer 2015. Since its upload, it has received 32 views. For similar materials see Medical Ethics in PHIL-Philosophy at University of Alabama - Tuscaloosa.


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Date Created: 02/06/16
Medical Ethics Notes: Week 3  Lecture  ● Brain Death:  ○ Harvard criteria: loss of nearly all brain activity and there are 2 flat EEGs.  ● The Uniform Brain Death Act (1978)  ○ irreversible loss of all brain function. (law in all 50 states)  ● The Irreversibility Standard  ○ when unconsciousness is irreversible (NOT a law)  ● The Cognitive Criterion  ○ Loss of core mental properties such as reason, memory, and self awareness.  ○ “Biographical life” is what matters, not “Biological life”  ● James Rachels  ○ “Active and Passive Euthanasia”  ■ The legal distinction between active and passive euthanasia is unjustified  ■ Why is active euthanasia murder? Why is passive euthanasia morally  permissible?  ■ Active euthanasia is often more humane than passive euthanasia.  ■ Suppose someone…  ● has throat cancer and is in great pain.  ● he/she must die within 48 hours, and begs the doctor to kill  him/her.  ● it would be humane to kill him.  ● Compassion, Well Being, Mercy  ● The value of autonomy can also favor active euthanasia  ● If a competent adult wants to die, this is a reason (small or big) to kill him.  ● But isn’t killing worse, in itself, than letting die?  ● Rachels: Consider two cases that are just the same,except that one is a case of killing,  the other of letting die.   ○ same motive: both want to kill for personal gain  ○ same result: the child dies by drowning  ○ the only difference is that Smith kills, while Jones lets die.   ○ Rachels: what Smith and Jones do is equally bad.  ● So active and passive euthanasia, in themselves are on a moral par.   ● Rachel’s main argument  ○ passive euthanasia and active euthanasia are, in themselves, ethically  equivalent.(justified by Smith/Jones)  ○ passive euthanasia is often less human than active euthanasia (justified by throat  cancer patient)  ○ conclusion: if passive euthanasia is okay (morally and legally) then active  euthanasia should be okay too.  ● Why do people think killing is so much worse than letting di ? ○ society and its upbringing  ○ they have never faced the challenge of being in that situation.  ● Rachels: because they have in mind the paradigm (standard, typical) cases  ● Paradigm case of killing:  ○ cold blooded murder  ● Paradigm case of letting die:  ○ a merciful act involving someone who is dying and suffering  ○ this case of killing is worse than this case of letting die  ● But it’s killing healthy person vs. letting someone die who is dying and suffering.   ● Gay­Williams’ Objections:  ○ euthanasia goes against our natural instincts.   ■ but often we should go against nature...poisons are natural  ■ it is so important to thnatura as not just a moral term  ○ the possibility of being cured (often a naive hope)  ● How to deal with the dying:  ○ do not deny the fact that they are going to die.   ○ be as optimistic as you can be, without losing the touch of reality.  


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