Euthanasia: Passive vs. Active
In the United States and around the globe no profession sparks such ethical controversy as the medical profession. No other industry or organization so directly tackles one of human existences’ biggest quandaries: life and death. With such overarching questions that go beyond governments, religions, and community there are obviously strong positions on multiple fronts. One of the most interesting and highly contested is the notion of doctor assisted suicide. This has been a highly contested argument ethically for ages, and came into the national spotlight with Dr. Kevorkian. Since then the argument has continued regarding whether or not a patient should be able to ask for assistance in ending one’s own life. Jarvis Thomsen is of the opinion that a person should never be the agent of the consequence of someone losing there right to life. Now, if a consequence was happening that a person could influence in order to stop someone from losing there life, it would be good if they did but they are not morally responsible to do so. Thomson is of the position that passive euthanasia is acceptable as you merely allow the consequence of a disease to happen, while active euthanasia justifies the consequence of one person’s actions to kill another. James Rachels’ position is the opposite. He believes that the once the decision to let the patient die it is the equivalent of killing them, and consequently the doctor should kill the patient to reduce the total amount of suffering.
Jarvis Thomsen argues that letting someone die is very much different then killing someone. While allowing someone to die and killing someone both have the end result of a death, in one instance a person is the agent death and in the other an outside force is. This is best explained by Thomsen’s two examples of rescuing five people drowning in the ocean. In example one as an individual is drive to rescue five people drowning when they come upon an individual...