Synopsis: Rachels is concerned to show that the AMA’s doctrine on euthanasia– that passive euthanasia is morally permissible while active euthanasia is. The moral distinction between active and passive euthanasia, or between “killing ” and The philosopher James Rachels has an argument that shows that the. May 19, The late philosopher James Rachels published one of the most salient pieces on the euthanasia (E) debate in the New England Journal.

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It says that there is a moral difference between carrying out an action, and merely omitting to carry out an action. Religion and Ethics home Religions. Active euthanasia is sometimes more humane than passive euthanasia. Euthanasia is the putting to death of a patient through the omission or commission of an act. But some philosophers think that active euthanasia is in fact the morally better course of action.

Active and passive euthanasia.

Smith then arranges things so that it looks like the child accidentally drowned. Active euthanasia reduces the total amount of pain Paesive suffers, and so active acitve should be preferred in this case. If we accept that active euthanasia is wrong, then we accept as a universal rule that people should be permitted to suffer severe pain before death if that is the consequence of their disease.

In Canada, however, assisting suicide and intentional killing, even when done to reduce suffering, are criminal acts. It is not the case that passive euthanasia never produces more suffering than active euthanasia. Now, the conventional doctrine says that letting die is sometimes permissible, whereas killing is always forbidden. Let’s suppose that the reason A wants to die is because he wants to stop suffering pain, and that that’s the reason the doctor is willing to allow euthanasia in each case.


It is important to note that in showing that CDE is false Rachel’s is not taking a stand on the moral permissibility or impermissibility of either active or passive euthanasia.

If CDE is true then passive euthanasia never produces more suffering than active euthanasia. This gap passie us to believe that killing is always worse. His goal is to challenge the distinction. Doctors faced with the problem of an incurable patient who wants to die have often felt it was morally better to withdraw treatment from a patient and let the patient die than to kill the patient perhaps with a lethal injection.

If you believe that euthanasia is always wrong, then this section is not worth reading. Simon Blackburn, Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy. Because, death is typically thought to be evil. Return to Theodore Gracyk’s Home Page. The person, suffering from terrible pain that can no longer be alleviated, asks the doctor to end his life. If active euthanasia is worse than passive euthanasia, then CDE is true.

Smith will gain a large inheritance if his six-year-old cousin dies. Jones is delighted at his good fortune, and stands by as the child drowns. 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. The Case of Smith: They are not intended for publication or general distribution. Jones will gain a large inheritance if his six-year-old euthanassia dies.

Therefore 6 CDE is true. Our goal is to prevent further unnecessary suffering.

Active and passive euthanasia

If the doctor agrees, she has two choices about what to do: As Rachels notes, the AMA takes a similar stand. If the patient is going to die either way, why is it morally permissible to dehydrate them to death? Causing death is a great evil if death is a great evil. Because the patient is terminally ill, is suffering terribly, and wants to avoid further suffering.


I didn’t kill him; I only let him die. Hence, it is a mistake to think that killing is intrinsically worse than letting die. This racbels has been archived and is no longer updated. Therefore, in many cases where it is right to let a patient die, it is also right to practice active euthanasia. Argument A 1 If CDE is true then passive euthanasia never produces more suffering than active euthanasia.

Active and passive euthanasia.

Active euthanasia is doing something to bring about death. Just as Jones enters the bathroom, however, the child ajd, hits his head, and falls face down in the water. But cases in which passive euthanasia seems permissible are cases in which continued existence is regarded as worse than death.

While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will pwssive be able to get the full visual experience. If the patient dies as a result of the doctor switching off the acttive then although it’s certainly true that the patient dies from lung cancer or whateverit’s also true that the immediate cause of their death is the switching off of the breathing machine.

But in most cases of right and wrong we do think that intention matters, and if we were asked, we would probably say that Smith was a worse person than Jones, because he intended to kill.