The Morality of Euthanasia
In the article, titled "The Morality of Euthanasia", James Rachels makes an argument that in some cases active euthanasia can be a morally right thing to do. The term active euthanasia takes place when someone, usually a medical staff, deliberately ends a patient's life at the direct request of a patient or his or her family in order to stop the patient's sufferings and pain. James maintains that an act of euthanasia in cases, when a patient cannot bear pain anymore, is a specific act of mercy given to him or her. In many circumstances, active euthanasia may play a vital role.
Rachels considers an utilitarian argument for active euthanasia, but there occur many facts that more controvert utilitarianism than support it. However, James supposes that the other version of the argument still has a potential to succeed. Particularly, he claims that no action can be considered as immoral if there is no violation of human rights presented. Therefore, Rachels claims that, in some cases, active euthanasia meets the given definition, and for this reason can be morally acceptable.
One of the most powerful arguments in support of euthanasia lies in mercy. It is a well-known fact that sometimes patients suffer a horrible pain. It could be unbearable, though for those, who do not actually experience it, the level of suchlike sufferings are beyond their comprehension. They could not realize the agony those patients face. Thuswise, the argument from mercy, which is quite simple, states that euthanasia is justified due to the fact that it provides an end to all the pain.
Jonathan Swift, who is known worldwide as the great Irish satirist, took eight years to die. He was severely ill. The pain in his blind eyes was so sharp that he had to be restrained from tryings to tear them out with his own hands. For the last three years of his life, he just sat and drooled. When he finally passed away it was only after thirty six hour convulsions he felt. The described events took place in 1745. Since then, doctors have found many ways to eliminate much of the pain. However, it still does not give a certain answer to the issue.
Another example is presented by Stewart Alsop, who was a respected journalist. He died in 1975 of a rare form of cancer. Before he passed away, he wrote about one of the patient he shared a room with in the NIH clinic. His name was Jack. He had a melan?ma in his b?lly. The cancer had started several m?nths ago in h?s l?ft sh?ulder. Several operations had been done since, but the cancer had metastasized.
Jack's doctor had prescribed him an intravenous shot of a synthetic opiate for every four hours. His wife spent many hours with him every day. It seemed like it helped Jack to fight the pain he suffered. But when his wife went home, the pain in his body had no mercy for him. The prescribed synthetic opiate had to control the pain for at least two hours. Then Jack started to moan, and then his pain got unbearable, he howled like a dog. Medicine did not do any real good. There goes a conclusion that no human being should suffer so to no good end.
The Alsop's written work about Jack gives a clear idea of the kind of sufferings that should be put to an end. All these facts, described above, should be perceived firmly and vividly in mind, so the full force of the argument from mercy can be appreciated. If a patient prefers, or already starts to beg for d?ath as the ?nly option to avoid the kind of torment he or she experiences, then there is nothing immoral in helping this patient die sooner.
The utilitarian version of the given argument also deserves a special attention. The utilitarians argued that all actions and social policies should be perceived from the point of right and wrong exclusively depending on whether they cause happiness or misery. Also, the utilitarians argued that euthanasia turns out to be morally acceptable if actions and social policies are judged exactly by this standard. Therefore, the utilitarian argument may be elaborated in the following way: if an action or social policy serves to increase the am?unt of happiness in the world or, at l?ast, to decre?se the am?unt of misery, it should be considered as a morally right act. In other words, any action or social policy should be considered as morally wrong in case it s?rves to decr?ase happiness or to increase misery. At this point, killing hopelessly sick patients, who suffer great pain and ask for death by themselves, would decrease misery in the w?rld. A good example is Alsop's roommate Jack. As a result, suchlike action would be morally right.
Basically, increasing the amount of happiness and decreasing the amount of misery in the world is known as the Principle of Utility. It is the basic utilitarian assumption. At these days, many philosophers do not agree with this principle because happiness and misery are not the only morally important things. There are many others. This fact makes the present principle of the utilitarian argument wrong and unacceptable.
Although the utilitarian argument is proved to be weak, and it has a lot of the gaps that need an essential reconsideration, it is still based on a logical idea. Happiness and misery are not the only morally important things, though they still remain important. As a result, when an action or social policy would increase happiness, it is a strong reason in its favor. Therefore, the argument is not fully put aside.
The article also presents the alternative of the argument from the perspective of the best interests without human rights violation. It states that if an action or social policy serves the best interests of every single person involved while violating no one's rights, then that action or social policy is considered to be morally right, Thuswise, active euthanasia can be justified. At least, the given version of the argument can be relevant in some cases.
The issue of active euthanasia is a complicated maze of moral and immoral philosophics that mostly view it within the framework of various studies. They present a lot of facts, strong reasons and explanations, bright examples, which support or reject the idea of euthanasia. But all of them in particular do not give a well-defined reply, whether active euthanasia should be performed, or not. It has became almost a never ending discussion while the people, who terribly suffer from pain, long for a help to stop the pain they experience.
From the standpoint of a human being, if a person suffers pain so bad that he or she cannot control the horrible feelings, and want to die in order to stop them, there is no other way or option, but to help this person to die and rest in peace. The best reason for an act of active euthanasia in such cases lies in the term life itself. We can only imagine what those terrible feelings of pain are like, but, generally, if to think logically, a person, who lives it out, does not have a life. This is a nightmare, an endless flow of days, which bring nothing but pain. At this point, considerations and statements referring to active euthanasia as right or wrong, or moral or immoral become senseless.
No one wants to live out life full of pain. No one wants to suffer all the time. Therefore, if there is no medicine in the world that can decrease pain to at least bearable level, active euthanasia is the only one solution, and therethrough it becomes automatically acceptable and right. It is moral to help a person to stop a horrible pain he or she feels by performing active euthanasia, but immoral to look at this person dying of pain, and pretend that taking away his or her life is immoral, though this life is already lost. Also, considering the issue of active euthanasia and deciding what side to choose in it, there should be a thought in mind that we all are born to be happy, not miserable. If happiness because of horrible pain is impossible, then nothing is wrong with an act of active euthanasia that still does not bring happiness, but at least gives relief.