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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Voluntary Euthanasia and the Common Law. Only rules that apply to everyone can be accepted One well-known ethical principle says that we should only be guided by moral principles that we would accept should be followed by everyone.

BBC – Ethics – Euthanasia: Active and passive euthanasia

Smith then arranges things so that it looks like the child accidentally drowned. Second argument is the Bathtub Example of Smith and Jones.

The doctor gives A a lethal injection – A becomes unconscious within seconds and dies within an hour. The person, suffering from terrible pain that can no longer be alleviated, asks the doctor to end his life. Do as you would be done by The rule that we should treat other people as we would like them to treat us also seems to support euthanasia, if we would want to be put out of our misery if we were in A’s position. It holds that it is sometimes permissible to withhold treatment, but it is never permissible to directly kill patients.

While the child is taking a bath one evening, Smith sneaks into the bathroom and drowns him. Active and passive euthanasia Active euthanasia Active euthanasia occurs when the medical professionals, or another person, deliberately do something that causes the patient to die.

But some people think this distinction is nonsense, since stopping treatment is a deliberate act, and so is deciding not to carry out a particular treatment. This page has been archived and is no longer updated.

Active and passive euthanasia

It demonstrates that some cases of letting die are at least as bad as killing. Active and passive euthanasia. A is dying of incurable cancer.


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. This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets CSS enabled.

Arthur Hugh Clough One well-known ethical principle says that we should only be guided by moral principles that we would accept should be followed by everyone. Our goal is to prevent further unnecessary suffering.

The philosopher James Rachels has an argument that shows that the distinction between acts and omissions is not as helpful as it looks. Switching off a respirator requires someone to carry out the action of throwing the switch.

If the patient dies as a result of the doctor switching off the respirator 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.

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. Suppose that the reason the doctor didn’t save Brown was that he was already in the middle of saving Green, and if he left Green to save Brown, Green would die. The doctrine that it makes an ethical difference whether an agent actively intervenes to bring about a result, or omits to act in circumstances in which it is foreseen that as a result of the omission the same result occurs.

Sullivan – – In Steven M.

James Rachels’ “Active and Passive Euthanasia”

While the child is taking a bath one evening, Jones sneaks into the bathroom with the aim of drowning the child. Active euthanasia is a lesser evil than passive passivve. Science Logic and Mathematics. Consider these two cases:. Bob Lane – – Humanist Perspectives Preferring active to passive euthanasia This section is written from the presumption that there are occasions when euthanasia is morally OK.

Just as Jones enters the bathroom, however, the child slips, hits his head, and falls face down in the water. The Dutch parliament very recently approved a bill that would allow doctors to directly administer a lethal dose of medication.


The humane thing to do is to let the patient die. No keywords specified fix it. The parents and doctors would not take action to directly kill the child.

In that case, we might think that the doctor had a good defence against accusations of unethical behaviour. To accept this argument we have to agree that the best action is one the which causes the greatest happiness or perhaps the least unhappiness for the patient and perhaps for the patient’s relatives and carers too.

A will die in about 7 days. However, active euthanasia physician-assisted death is never morally permissible. 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. Sign in Create an account. Return to Course Home Page.

Passive euthanasia Passive euthanasia occurs when the patient dies because the medical professionals either don’t do something necessary to keep the passivr alive, or when they stop doing something that is keeping the patient alive. In situations for which passive euthanasia is permissible under this justification, there are no morally sound reason for prohibiting active euthanasia, and in some cases, active euthanasia is morally preferable to passive euthanasia.

Active euthanasia rachles when the medical professionals, or another person, deliberately do something that causes the euthanxsia to die. 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 we are less familiar with the details of euthanasai die. They think it allows them to provide a patient with the death they want without having to deal with the difficult moral problems they would face if they deliberately killed that person.

Now, the conventional doctrine says that letting die is sometimes permissible, whereas killing is always forbidden.