Euthenasia Today Essay

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Euthanasia is one of the most hotly debated moral issues of our day. Many questions surround the issue, and they range from asking what euthanasia is to whether or not it is morally wrong to euthanize someone. Many philosophers have tackled the issue and have concluded a variety of different issues. In this essay, I will analyze the definition of euthanasia and show that James Rachels’s argument for active euthanasia succeeds over Gay-Williams’s argument against it. In Disputed Moral Issues, Mark Timmons defines euthanasia as “the act or practice of killing or allowing someone to die on grounds of mercy.” Gay-Williams adds to this by also stipulating that the person dying must be a patient who cannot be expected to recover from their ailment. There are two types of euthanasia: active and passive. In active euthanasia, steps are taken with the intention of causing the death of the patient. In passive euthanasia, steps are not taken with the intention of causing the death of the patient. It is important to note that passive euthanasia is not the same as making a mistake in a patient’s care that leads to his or her death. Rather, passive euthanasia requires that a doctor knowingly refrain from preventing a patient’s death. However, Gay-Williams argues that there is no such thing as passive euthanasia, saying that in these cases, the patient’s death is not the intended consequence, but rather a side-effect. The intention, he claims, is to prevent unnecessary burdens that would accompany any extension on the patient’s life, such as financial and emotional costs on the patient and his or her family. In his paper “The Wrongfulness of Euthanasia,” Gay-Williams makes three main arguments against the practice. The first of these is referred to as “The Argument from Nature.” In it, Gay-Williams postulates that as humans, we instinctively aim to live, and that preventing a
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