Euthanasia Debate Essay

Euthanasia: A Controversial End to Suffering

Euthanasia is essentially a form of assisted suicide when a person is suffering from a terminal illness that precludes them from living a meaningful life. As a result, euthanasia is used to relieve chronic pain and suffering by ending the patient's life. There are two types of euthanasia: voluntary and involuntary. The former occurs when a patient decides to end their life, whereas the latter occurs without the patient's agreement and is usually determined by the patient's family or friends. The action can be carried out through a lethal injection, the withdrawal of life-sustaining means, or suffocation. However, there are different moral perspectives regarding euthanasia with various philosophers developing theories. This essay will look in-depth at three points of views, which include categorical imperative, utilitarianism, and social contrast arguments, in as far as addressing euthanasia is concerned.

Categorical Imperative Theory

Introduced by a German philosopher, Immanuel Kant, categorical imperative provides a procedure that will help analyze the morality of a particular action. Such an act should also be in accordance with the maxim through which you can also will, that it become a universal law. Therefore, when using euthanasia to end the patient’s life, you must be willing for it to become a universal rule for everyone to follow, including yourself. Moreover, Kant insists that one should conduct euthanasia feeling that is the right thing, and not based on emotional reason. Additionally, Kant believed that human beings should be inherently valued as ends, not as instrumental means to accomplish other goals. As such, we should not end our lives because it may seem necessary as the fact that we exist is enough value. Also, suicide, whether voluntary or involuntary is one of the actions that violate moral responsibility (Rachels, and Stuart 100). According to Kant, regardless of the situation a person may be suffering from, euthanasia is wrong as it is inconsistent with the fundamental value of human life.

Classical Version of Utilitarianism

From the utilitarian point of view, any action should cause the greatest happiness to the highest number, whose result determines the morality of the activities undertaken. In essence, whether actions are moral or immoral is based on their effects; as such, no action is, in itself either bad or good. Arguably, euthanasia will end the pain and suffering of the patient, and bring happiness to family and friends. As such, it is a morally right action, which serves as the basis of the utilitarian theory establishment. Furthermore, utilitarian supporters believe that an individual has complete sovereignty over their body; any decision regarding one’s body is under their authority. Therefore, if a person decides on their own will to end their life, then not even the government can interfere with that right (Rachels, and Stuart 100). It is up to an individual to choose whether to use this point of view as their basis for their beliefs concerning euthanasia.

Social Contract Theory

Social contract theory has been the most dominant perspective on moral and political issues. The theory argues that human beings are free to do things that they will to do, which they can achieve. People should have every right to make decisions on what they want in as far as their lives are concerned. According to Locke, if a person is capable of making decisions, then they have the right to decide whether to live or die. Regarding when is the best time to make decisions about euthanasia, this theory suggests that it should be up to an individual to do what is best for them at any given time (Rachels, and Stuart 101). It is evident that from the social contrast point of view, euthanasia is acceptable and morally right.

Work Cited

Rachels, James, and Stuart Rachels. The elements of moral philosophy. New York: McGraw-

Hill, 2003: 99-102.

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