The distinction between active and passive euthanasia is thought to be crucial for medical ethics. The idea is that it is James Rachels. James Rachels. The late philosopher James Rachels published one of the most salient pieces on the euthanasia (E) debate in the New England Journal. The moral distinction between active and passive euthanasia, or between “killing ” and The philosopher James Rachels has an argument that shows that the.

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Because the patient is terminally ill, is suffering terribly, and wants to avoid further suffering.

BBC – Ethics – Euthanasia: Active and passive euthanasia

You might argue that we can’t compare the case of a doctor who is trying to do their best for their patient with Smith and Jones who are obvious villains. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets CSS if you are able to do so. I didn’t kill him; I only let him die. So allowing the patient to continue to live in this state is a greater evil than causing their death.

Consider a familiar anf of case in which someone is dying of an incurable form of cancer. Or, if one thinks that it is better that such an infant not live on, what difference does it make that it happens to have an obstructed intestinal tract? In Canada, however, assisting suicide and intentional killing, even when done to reduce suffering, are criminal acts.

Active and passive euthanasia

The doctrine that it makes an ethical difference whether an agent actively intervenes to bring about a result, or omits to act in circumstances in which it is foreseen that as a result of the omission the same result occurs. A is dying of incurable cancer.

Arthur Hugh Clough So the decision whether to let the child die, or allow it to live, turns on whether the child has a congenital paesive.


If “letting die” is always immoral, then one might have a sound moral reason to object to active euthanasia, too.

Reichenbach – – Bioethics 1 1: It says that there is a moral etuhanasia between carrying out an action, and merely omitting to carry out an action.

Jones is delighted at his good fortune, and stands by as the child drowns. Smith then arranges things so racgels it looks like the child accidentally drowned.

A will die in about 7 days. Only rules that apply to everyone can be accepted One well-known ethical principle says that we should only be guided by moral principles that we would accept should be followed by everyone. rachhels

This section is written from the presumption that there are occasions when euthanasia is morally OK. They think it allows them to provide a patient with the death they want without having to deal with the difficult moral problems they would face if they deliberately killed that person. No keywords specified fix it.

But some philosophers think that active euthanasia is in fact the morally better course of action. Added to PP index Total downloads 16, of 2, Recent downloads 6 months 30 14, of 2, How can I increase my downloads?

His goal is to challenge the distinction. This article has no associated abstract.

A Reply to Rachels. The moral distinction between active and passive euthanasia, or between “killing” and “letting die”. Do as you would be done by The rule that we should treat other people as we would like them to treat us also seems to support euthanasia, if we would want to be put out of our misery if we were in A’s position. The defects are often quite easy to correct. But some people think this distinction is nonsense, since stopping treatment is a deliberate act, and so is deciding not to carry out a particular treatment.


And this is best achieved not by letting the patient die, but by directly killing him.

Rachels does not want to deny that actual killings are often much worse than actual cases of letting rachelx. The person, suffering from terrible pain that can no longer be alleviated, asks the doctor to end his life.

If the patient dies as a result of the doctor switching off the respirator then although it’s certainly true that the patient dies from lung cancer or whateverit’s also true that the immediate cause of their death is the switching off of the breathing machine. O’Neil – – Philosophy 55 Margaret Otlowski – – Clarendon Press.

But cases in which passive euthanasia seems permissible are cases in which continued existence is regarded as worse than death. Active euthanasia occurs when the medical professionals, or another person, deliberately do something that causes the patient to die.

This page has been archived and is no longer updated. If we accept that active euthanasia is wrong, then we accept as a universal rule euhtanasia people should be permitted to suffer severe pain before death if that is the consequence of their disease. A person might well not want to be killed even in this situation, if their beliefs or opinions were not against active euthanasia.

But in most cases of right and wrong we do think that intention matters, and if we were asked, we would probably say that Smith was a worse person than Jones, because he intended to kill. Assisted Suicide in Applied Ethics.