Essay Preview: Euthansia
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Find a recent newspaper article which deals with some current business, media, social or political issues where there is an ethical component. Carefully identify some of the central ethical issues. Analyse and critically discuss one of these central issues. You should discuss the options available to the main protagonist and, using two ethical theories, explore ways in which different courses of action could be justified. Essay should be no longer than 1500 words.

Controversy has risen in Paris with more than two thousand French doctors and nurses signing a petition, proclaiming that they had assisted in the requested deaths of patients suffering from incurable diseases, in an attempt for the government to legalise euthanasia. The confession of the medical physicians have been in response to the trial of a doctor and nurse accused with “administering a fatal dose of potassium” (Reuters, 2007) to a terminally ill woman, suffering from cancer. Both the petition and the trial open the contentious debate on euthanasia and whether such an act should be legalised.

Euthanasia originated from the Greek language meaning “good death.” In recent use, the meaning on euthanasia is applied to an “action of inducing a gentle and easy death. Used especially with reference to a proposal that the law should sanction the putting painlessly to death of those suffering from incurable and extremely painful diseases” (Oxford English Dictionary, 2006). There are different terms that are apart of euthanasia, including Passive, Active, Physician Assisted Suicide and Involuntary euthanasia, and depending on moral, ethical or religious terms, euthanasia can have many meanings. Passive euthanasia involves not doing something to prevent death, as when doctors refrain from using an artificial respirator to keep alive a terminally ill patient. Active euthanasia involves causing the death through a direct action, in response to the request of that person. Physician Assisted Suicide is when a physician supplies the means so that the person can easily terminate their own life. Involuntary euthanasia is used to describe the killing of a person who has not requested to die and is most often done to patients who are in a Persistent Vegetative State who is not mentally competent to make an informed request.

In Western countries euthanasia is illegal apart from countries such as Belgium, The Netherlands and Columbia. With French doctors and nurse seeking for the government to legalise euthanasia, I will explore both sides to the argument, those who think it is moral and those who think it is immoral, applying the theories of ethics to specific points. I will endeavour to outline the different ways in which this controversial issue may be perceived and the actions of those opposing theories justified.

The first theory I will apply to this case is Kantian ethics, a theory devised by Immanuel Kant (1724-1804). Kantian ethics is a theory based on a “system of rules that one must follow from a sense of duty, regardless of ones wants or desires.” (Rachels, 2007, p.127) The desire to die can be seen as going against good will and duty. The principle of Universal Law within Kants theories states “act only according to that maxim by which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” (Kant & Beck, 1951, p.47) All moral statements should be both universalisable and willed to be universalized. If they are not universalisable then they are contradictions in the Law of the Will. As cited in Voluntary Euthanasia Society New Zealand, the legalization of euthanasia, could become abused, and the unwilling also brought to death. The maxim to kill people is not universalisable and could not be willed to be universalized since it would lead to your own death and the death of your loved ones. Suicide or allowing one to die is strictly incompatible with respect to ones humanity.

As referred to in Rachels (2007, pg.130), “humans may never be “used” as a means to an end.” People should always be treated as ends in themselves and not as a means to an end. So, euthanasia through the values of Kant can be contradictory in that the right to choose is used for its own destruction. Yet, Kantian theories all revolve around the value of a human beings “is above all price,” (Kant & Beck, 1951, p.53), therefore, using a doctor as a means to an end is wrong as this gives them instrumental value rather than instrinsic

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Ethical Theories And Physician Assisted Suicide. (April 2, 2021). Retrieved from