Explain How Moral Relativism Might Be Applied to Voluntary Euthanasia

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Explain how moral relativism might be applied to voluntary euthanasia (25 marks) Euthanasia is a worldwide ethical issue. Meaning ‘good death’, euthanasia is currently illegal in the UK and so people have to either break the law and face serious consequences or indeed go to a place in Switzerland called Dignitas. In Zurich, it is legal to end a person’s life at a special hospital in which a doctor subscribes a pill that will kill the patient. This is voluntary euthanasia because it involves provision of means and is an opportunity whereby a patient can terminate their own life. There are two main types of moral groups. They are absolute and relative. Absolute is when you are either strongly for or against something. For example, Catholic’s believe that all forms of euthanasia are wrong, even if the person is severely suffering. This is because they believe that life is sacred and so should be preserved by all means. Relative is when your judgement depends on the circumstances of that particular case. For example, euthanasia is ok if you are in deep agony. Moral relativism uses teological, consequentialist and subjective views. One form of moral relativism is Utilitarianism. This is then split into three sub categories: Rule (founded by MILL), Act (founded by BENTHAM) and preference (R.M HARE). Rule utilitarianism is based on the quality of pleasure. Mill believes that there are levels of pleasure and that the general happiness of everyone is important and long term consequences need to be considered. So rule may support euthanasia as it will obviously bring great pleasure to the terminally ill and though may upset family members, is better in the long term. Act utilitarianism is based on creating the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people. Bentham believed pleasure should be maximised and pain minimised so would have clearly supported

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