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Active and Passive Euthanasia

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About the article1

The difference between killing and letting die3

Euthanasia in Canada5



Active and Passive Euthanasia


In his article Active and Passive Euthanasia, James Rachels drawn on various hypothetical arguments to conclude that there is no difference between active and passive euthanasia. He says that the doctrine's assumption on the make them believe that the latter should be permissible whereas the former should remain forbidden under all circumstances. The purpose of this analysis philosophy paper is to counter argued the hypothetical arguments drawn by the author James Rachel and prove that there certainly is a difference between Active and Passive Euthanasia (Rachels, 1975). For this purpose, the paper uses the comments made by Philippa Foot in her article “killing and letting die” and the same author's article Morality as a System of Hypothetical Imperatives.

About the article

The author's first claim is that considering the fact that there is no difference between active and passive euthanasia, there are instances that the doctrine's decision to forbid active euthanasia is flawed. Rachel gives the example of a patient dying with cancer in his throat. In an attempt, to cease the misery and trauma of the dying person, the patient and his family decide that it would be better to put an end to his life as he will be dying shortly regardless. When the family talks to the doctor, he agrees to discontinue the treatment. The author argues that stopping the treatment will not help the patient in that it will not bring him sudden death. He will continue to suffer until death enfolds him. This for the author seems inhuman. Letting a person die in a situation where he can be saved the most excruciating pain is unwise. The author fails to understand, that there is a difference between a letting a person die on the pretext of saving him the pain he is going through, and taking active actions to kill him on an instance basis. A lethal injection would mean an action on the doctor's part to kill the already dying patient (Rachels, 1975).

According to Foot, there is a difference between killing and letting die. In her article, Killing and letting die, foot gives the example of a rescue jeep trying to save five drowning people. The author gives two different scenarios to prove this difference. In one situation, the people in a jeep have to choose between saving a single person or letting this one person die to save the five drowning people. In the other scenario, the people in the jeep are faced with another ethical dilemma. They have to kill a person by driving over him to save five people across the road.

In these two scenarios, it is important to note that although apparently, the people in the jeep have to save either a single man or five people, but the circumstances in which they will be doing this is very different in both ...
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