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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If the patient is going to die either way, why is it morally permissible to dehydrate them to death? The refusal of treatment to some “defective” newborns, and the subsequent death by dehydration, shows that some cases of letting die are worse than killing.

Doctors can withhold treatment in many circumstances, and does nothing wrong if the patient dies, but the doctor must never, ever “kill” the patient. Bob Lane – – Humanist Perspectives Consider these two cases:. Not everyone would agree that this is the right way to argue.

Active and passive euthanasia

Sign in to use this feature. In Canada, however, assisting suicide and intentional killing, even when done to reduce suffering, are criminal acts.

Twycross – – Journal of Medical Ethics 1 3: But this isn’t necessarily so:. Or, rachelx 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? It demonstrates that some cases of letting die are at least as bad as killing.

Smith then arranges things so that it looks like the child accidentally jamrs. Therefore, in many cases where it is right to let a patient die, it is also right to practice active euthanasia. Active euthanasia reduces the total amount of pain A suffers, and so active euthanasia should be preferred in this case.


If the child had not been born with the defect, however, it would have been allowed to live. Oxford University Press Active euthanasia occurs when etuhanasia medical professionals, or another person, deliberately do something that causes the patient to die. A lesser evil should always be preferred to a greater evil. Now, the conventional doctrine says that letting die is sometimes permissible, whereas killing is always forbidden.

If passive euthanasia would be rachel in this case then the continued existence of the patient in a state of great pain must be a greater evil than their death. The moral distinction between active and passive euthanasia, or between “killing” and “letting die”. Hence, it is a mistake to think that killing is intrinsically worse than letting die. Jones will gain a large inheritance if passie six-year-old cousin dies. You might argue that we can’t compare the case racgels a doctor who is trying to do their best for their patient with Smith and Jones who are obvious villains.

If This Is My Body …: Although most actual cases of killing are morally worse than most actual cases of letting die, we are more familiar with cases of killing especially the terrible ones that are reported in the mediabut anc are less familiar with the details of letting die. Return to Theodore Gracyk’s Home Page.

The doctor gives A a lethal injection – A becomes unconscious within seconds and dies within an hour. The Case of Jones.

His goal is to challenge the distinction. In this case letting someone die is morally very bad indeed. Active and Passive Euthanasia: Request removal from index.

BBC – Ethics – Euthanasia: Active and passive euthanasia

A Reply to Rachels. In that case, we might think that the doctor had a good defence against accusations of unethical behaviour. Natalie Abrams – – Philosophy 53 Sign in Create an account. Assisted Suicide in Applied Ethics. In a case where “letting die” is immoral, killing may also be immoral.


I didn’t kill him; I only let him die. But cases racheld which passive euthanasia seems permissible are cases in which continued existence is regarded as worse than death.

Rickless – – Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 89 1: I didn’t do anything except just stand there and watch the child drown. But this is irrelevant, according to Rachels. Simon Blackburn explains it like this in the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy: Voluntary Euthanasia and the Common Law.

This gap leads us to believe that killing is always worse. But if it has no defect, there is nothing we can do. Active euthanasia is a lesser evil than passive euthanasia. Euthanasia and the Active-Passive Distinction.

No keywords specified fix it. In law Smith is guilty of murder and Jones isn’t guilty of anything. One well-known ethical principle says that we should only be guided by moral principles that we would accept should be followed by everyone. But some philosophers think that active euthanasia is in fact the morally better course eufhanasia action.

ad Passive euthanasia Passive euthanasia occurs when the patient dies because the medical professionals either don’t do something necessary to keep the patient alive, or when they stop doing something that is keeping the patient alive.