University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Justification of Euthanasia
Human lifespan is obviously priority and most importance in recent years. Huge number of scientists and medical doctors has tried to extend human life to live longer. Well-known ‘Genome-project’ is one of these efforts. In the point of view on life extension, euthanasia is undoubtedly one of controversial issue in modern society. The conflict is driven by the opinion gap whether accept the notion of euthanasia or should not be allowed. Obviously, in the past, there were few concerns toward human life compared to recent years. Original human kind tends to follow the rule of nature and try to adapt the natural circulation.
In addition, due to civilization and modernization, the notion of civil right improved and naturally the dignity of human life has built up as priority in human society. Also, based on the religious thought such as Catholic point of view, human dignity and life had more support to keep permanence. Therefore, emerging the concept of modifying human life, the euthanasia problem takes center place and playing a key role on this conflict. Cons of the proceeding euthanasia insist that it is infringement of others’ freewill and human right.
Nevertheless of the huge activity to keep the dignity of human life as a form of preventing and against euthanasia, the recent study from Bangor University find out that Two-third of people accepts assisted suicide. In short, over 62,000 people with terminal illnesses support the Euthanasia. Not only for the patients but according to British Medical Journal, they have called on doctors’ organizations to stop opposing assisted dying for terminally ill, mentally competent adults to minimize the pain of patients. Based on these persists, nowadays, the massive amount of movement to legalize euthanasia is emerging.
The origin of conflict on euthanasia is back to 17th century in London. Famous British philosopher, Francis Bacon started to use the norm of ‘Euthanasia’ as the meaning of ‘good death’ in Greek word. Even though this word implies the good death literally, in reality, it does not tell us general concept and exact definition of good death. Contrarily, it refers to the practice of intentionally ending a life in order to relieve pain and suffering. This dictionary’s definition provoked the opinion that ending life with intention is violation of human dignity and challenging to the God’s ultimate process.
In short, the previous conflict was derived from the religious difference between religionists and reductionists. However, recent conflict stemmed from the distinction of moral value. There are two kinds of euthanasia as ‘Passive Euthanasia’ and ‘Active Euthanasia’. Passive euthanasia refers to withholding or withdrawing certain treatment and letting a patient die. The basic example can be removing respirator from injured patient. Active euthanasia is using certain death-causing means to bring about or cause the death of a person. It was also called as ‘mercy killing’. The general and well-known example is Dr. Kevorkian’s treatment toward his patient to let them die.
Both type of euthanasia involve to assisted suicide and these types of euthanasia are definitely denied by the peoplewho against the assisted killing. The opposite approach toward euthanasia is based on concerning of slippery slope to legalized murder. This argument is related to the proceeding non-voluntary euthanasia toward patients. Non-voluntary euthanasia refers people other than the one whose life is at issue decide what is to be done. The actual example of non-voluntary euthanasia is infant euthanasia and euthanasia to person in a vegetative state.
As this kind of euthanasia does not allow involvement of patient’s direct opinion, it has no difference with murder which committed without the freewill of the person who directly involved. The only difference is depends on being legalized or not. Therefore, allowing euthanasia will provoke slippery slope to legalize medical murder. Not only this aspect, but euthanasia is also against the Kant’s Categorical Imperatives. According to categorical imperative, killing people is considered as universally immoral and should not be done.
In addition, Hippocratic Oath which is virtue of medical doctor describes ‘I will neither give a deadly drug to anybody if asked for it, nor will I make a suggestion to this effect’. Consequently, proceeding euthanasia is violating first promise of self-restraint sworn to in the Hippocratic Oath as primary taboo and ignoring the universal law by permitting euthanasia. Lastly, in accordance with virtue ethics, we need to pursue the ultimate eudemonia to the patients and involved person but euthanasia is not a way to keep the most eudemonia.
There is a replacement as palliative care which refers ‘hospice-style’ palliative care that enhancing patient’s satisfaction and comfort with minimizing the severe pain by specialized hospice facilities. This method is morally right compared to euthanasia and has no violence in terms of religious faith as well. Therefore, more efficient and effective way to preserve eudemonia is palliative care because directly involved patient can enjoy relatively longer period of eudemonic life. However, Pro-euthanasia refute these assertions respectively.
In terms of slippery slope, the advocates of euthanasia insist that there is no evidence of horrible consequences such as abuse of medical murder; therefore, it is hard to accept the argument of slippery slope. In short, this argument is hasty generation. Contrarily, proceeding euthanasia bears ‘the greatest happiness of the greatest number’ which is adapted by the concept of Utilitarianism. Even though there is non-voluntary euthanasia, in case the result makes ultimately more amount of happiness, the euthanasia can be preceded.
Therefore, if the euthanasia brings large amount of happiness and less pain to patient compared to keeping person alive, it is better to proceeds euthanasia. In addition, natural right makes justification of euthanasia. It means, life itself and also liberty and the ability to pursue certain things to essential bring happiness. In short, patient’s decision which is directly involved with own life is upper than categorical imperative or Doctor’s doctrine such as Hippocratic Oath because the fact that people are important as human beings or persons.
Therefore, humans’ natural right to decide own destiny for being human is dominant than categorical imperative. Moreover, Hippocratic Oath has been modified and amended to adapt various occasions; consequently, it has less acceptability in modern society. Thus, there is no reason to block the euthanasia toward patient. Finally, the virtue ethic can be applied to another dimension. Even if it is right that medical doctor has more knowledge of the illness, they cannot know the exact amount of pain from patients. It means, in terms of pain, patients have more experiences than doctors.
Moreover, euthanasia is also one of method to enhance eudemonia. Assisting death, euthanasia, cannot be proceeded exclude giving the best condition of palliative care but under the integration from compassionate care and patient’s opinion, then ultimately makes assisting death with dignity. Therefore, euthanasia is one of extension of palliative care and tries to offer the greatest eudemonia in terms of both pain and financial pressure. To summarize, the conflict based on the concept of euthanasia was originally depend on difference between religious concept and modernized concept.
And this conflict evolved to the debate upon morality of euthanasia in modern society. The opinion of Con-euthanasia is based on the danger of slippery slope to legalized murder, Categorical imperatives and Hippocratic Oath, and palliative care with adapting virtue theory. Contrarily, Pro-euthanasia prove its justification based on utilitarianism and flaws of approach of slippery slope, overwhelming position of natural right and fallacy of Hippocratic Oath, and the notion of euthanasia as extension of palliative care with eudemonic conception.
Obviously, it is right to follow the universal law such as prohibiting kill other person and do our best to keep the other’s life. It is most important human reason and natural circulation, simultaneously. However, it is also undeniable fact that pursuing own authority is one of privilege of mankind. Moreover, if the decision brings more happiness and satisfactory result to the greatest number of people, it is better to be done. Euthanasia is not violating human dignity. Rather, it promotes and respect own decision and consequently makes less painful society. As above study indicates, there are huge demands of assisted-suicide.