University of California
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Utilitarianism and Euthanasia
The moral issue that I will discuss about is Euthanasia. Euthanasia simplu means bringing the death of another for the benefit of that person and also known as mercy killing. “When a person carries out an act of euthanasia, he brings about the death of another person because he believes the latter’s present existence is so bad that she would be better off dead, or believes that unless he intervenes and ends her life, it will become so bad that she would be better off dead” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). There are two forms of euthanasia; voluntary and non-voluntary.
Voluntary euthanasia means if it’s coming from the patient him or herself. Non – voluntary means a family member making the decision for the patient. In an active euthanasia which is illegal, it is saying that you are performing direct action to take someone’s life. In a passive euthanasia which is legal, it is allowing someone to die by not performing some life sustaining action. What does euthanasia has to do with morality? My morality behind euthanasia is that euthanasia should be the right to die for patients who are intensely ill.
Euthanasia is natural in a way because in real life, there is a matter of life and death. It is natural for people to live but death is also part of nature. No one can live forever, and since euthanasia is performed on people facing serious illness and facing death. Euthanasia seems to understand the course of nature and its ways by letting the patient wish be fulfilled and let them die in peace instead of suffering in pain. Jeremy Bentham, founder of Utilitarianism. Actions are good/bad, right/wrong based on whether or not they will produce pleasure or pain for the party or parties involved.
It is basically saying that the principle of utilitarianism is always chooose the action or social policy that provides the most happiness for all. Utilitarianism comes with three implications of the principle of utilitarianism; We should always seek the greatest good for the greatest number. We should always aim to maximize net happiness and Actions are right in proportion to their benefit. We should not think of ourselves but think of the whole group and what we can do to maximize happiness. According to Utilitarianism, the ultimate goal is to increase happiness, they don’t care
about the motives. It says that one cannot privilege their own happiness over the happiness of others. Consequentialism is a thesis which claims we should evaluate the morality of an act based on outcome not intentions. Therefore, an act is right if it produces more good consequences than bad consequences, for all parties involved, given the reasonable alternatives. Same outcome:same moral judgement. Consequentialism looks at intentions. In applying euthanasia to Utilitarianism, utilitarianism states that happiness of the mass is the greatest outcome and since euthanasia is mercy killing.
For example if a doctor tries to save a patient and the patient dies and another doctor made the patient die on purpose and didn’t try to save him. Utilitarian’s wouldn’t care because both doctors have the same moral judgement and outcome. Which is bad because not everyone is happy because the patient was denied her/ his will and for that it doesn’t make the whole mass happiness increase. Utilitarianism is partial because not everybody’s need is been fulfilled and the amount of happiness is decreased. In applying euthanasia to consequentialism, consequentialism has only one duty which is to maximize good consequences.
It doesn’t matter what we do, all it wants is to maximize good results. In performing euthanasia on a person, we are maximizing good consequences because the person requesting it is happy about it and wants to be freed from all the pain and suffering. So if a person receives this treatment, it will increase the mass of good results. In Kant theory, morality is a matter of duty. A duty is an obligation, we must do it even if we don’t want to. Morality will consist in acting out of duty. Must be motivated by sense of duty. It’s like a law or rule that applies universal.
We must follow it. If a law says we cannot kill, we have to follow it not just because we have to but also is in accordance with our with our moral duty. In acting from duty, acting according to law and for the right reason. For example, it is my duty not to kill. Killing is wrong. The Good Will freely chooses to do something precisely because it is one’s moral duty, and that duty is dedicated by reason. The only motivation that counts for good will is rightness of action. We control our Good will, it is solely based on our own individual intentions, will and motives.
If we make it our moral duty to obey laws, we are not just acting on it because we want to and people tell us to but it is something that we are dedicated to and must follow it. We have a reason to follow it because it is our motive and have make our own position to make it work for ourselves. The categorical imperative theory states that act on a maxim(rule of conduct) that you can do will to become a universal law. It holds without exception; absolute and independent of desires or goals. We should not make exception of ourselves. Moral rules should apply equally to everyone. For example: killing.
According to Kant, this cannot be a universal law because everybody would go around killing each other and will cause commotion in the world. This kind of behavior cannot be universalized. We have a duty not to kill, if we don’t follow that, does it mean everyone should? If someone doesn’t give their money out, they act on that because they think everyone else is doing it. Hypothetical Imperative is conditional and non universal. It is dependent on particular desires, goals and conditions. For example: if you want to be healthy, you have to eat healthy food. If you don’t follow this, you will not get results.