Euthanasia: An Ethical Issue

Summary

The video Euthanasia considers the ethical issue from the point of view of the law, ethics, religion, and philosophy. It does not appear to take a stance, but it portrays euthanasia as a phenomenon that is unlikely to disappear. The film offers a comprehensive overview of various attitudes as well as the objective advantages and disadvantages of the topic and demonstrates cases, opinions (for example, Dignity in Dying), and personal stories (Campbell or Dr. Nitschke) that can serve as illustrations to key points.

Personal Attitude

I believe that every person has the right to decide whether to live or die. They are going to make the choice that is in line with their beliefs (including religious ones) and priorities, which makes their decision the only one that is applicable to them. However, this decision can be made only by the person with full mental capacity. It is extremely unethical, in my opinion, to call the doctors who assist in suicide murderers: it is apparent that they help an ill person to perform an act that he or she wants to but cannot do, which is perfectly moral. As for the problem of the possibility of abusing the right to assist in suicide, I suppose that it can be alleviated through multiple inspections.

Analysis: Various Perspectives

While the Kantian perspective is likely to be used to oppose euthanasia (since killing someone is an immoral deed), there is a nuance. According to Kant, the consequences of an action are less important than its motive. The doctors who agree to perform euthanasia have the best of intentions. Moreover, they do the humane thing and treat their patients as humans with free will and the capability to make decisions. In other words, the Kantian perspective could have explained and defended euthanasia, but this approach presupposes a pre-existing moral code, and the imperative of not killing makes assisted suicide immoral.

The utilitarian perspective explains and supports euthanasia since the latter is directly concerned with the minimization of pain for everyone from the patient to the relatives and doctors who watch the sufferings. It is noteworthy, though, that the utilitarian perspective explains any kind of euthanasia, including that for the patients who cannot (or do not) agree to be euthanized. I would not say that this perspective corresponds to my ideas on the topic.

I think that the social contract perspective could be applied to euthanasia since it explains both the reason for the assistance in suicide (that shows respect towards another person and corresponds to the rule of the freedom of choice) and the need for the laws that would regulate this process. However, the existing rules make euthanasia a controversial issue: while we are free beings and should have the right to end our lives, murder is outlawed, and there is no concept of lawful merciful murder in most countries. However, the countries that have the concept and relevant rules can use this approach to argue for euthanasia.

The applicability of virtue ethics to euthanasia is a questionable issue that depends on whether we consider assisted suicide a positive or negative thing. To sum up, none of the approaches appears to make the problem of euthanasia less controversial while supporting my opinion with the exception of the social contract perspective for the countries with legalized assisted suicide.

Personal Experience

I have seen two slow, painful deaths from cancer. We live longer nowadays; the population grows older and is more likely to develop age-related diseases including cancer. Painful deaths are common and are likely to become more common. The two people I knew wanted to stay alive despite the pain; I cannot imagine either of them asking for euthanasia. However, my experience is limited. Also, I remember what it looked like, and I would not blame anyone for wanting to give it up. I think that euthanasia is a personal decision, but I understand both its proponents and opponents. In any case, it appears that the debate around the issue will be ongoing.