Euthanasia: Morality and Divine Command Theory
The selected moral topic that I chose for this semester is Euthanasia. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, Euthanasia can be defined as “the act or practice of ending the life of an individual suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition, as by lethal injection or the suspension of extraordinary medical treatment. (Mifflin, 1992) ” Euthanasia raises a Moral Dilemma. “A Moral Dilemma is a situation, in theory or practice, that forces an individual group to choose between two (equally) important values and, whichever side one chooses, one loses something. ” One of the values that the author identifies is life.
He says that “The person who causes his or her own death repudiates (or rejects) the meaningfulness and worth of his or her own life. To decide to initiate an act that has as its primary purpose to end one’s life is to decide that life has no worth to anyone, especially to oneself. It is an act that ends all choices regarding what one’s life and whatever is left of it is to symbolize (Dyck, 2008). ” In this report on Euthanasia, though Ethical Relativist say that Euthanasia is right, the Divine Command Theory and Ethical Egoist say that the practice of Euthanasia is neither right nor wrong.
The Method of “Synthetic Assimilation” “seeks to learn from what the ten main moral theories have to tell us and seeks to create a unified and well-formed approach to moral reflection and action. The method contrasts with the “either/or” approach. ” “The Method of Synthetic Assimilation allows you to see that there are various reasons for holding to certain views of right and wrong. ” The structure of moral reasoning starts off with the General Moral Principle. The part of the structure of moral reasoning is the Factual Claim. Finally, the third part is the Derivative Moral Theory.
Applying Ethical Relativism to Euthanasia: The formal argument that cultural relativist would use in delivering the morality of Euthanasia would most likely run as follows:
Premise 1: According to Ethical (or Cultural) Relativism, “if your culture says that something is right, it is right for you and your culture; if your culture says that something is wrong, it is wrong for you and your culture” [GMP].
Premise 2: While it is in some people’s rational self interest not to engage in or allow euthanasia, t is in some other people’s rational self-interest to engage in or allow euthanasia (FC). Conclusion: Therefore, according to Ethical Egoism, euthanasia is right in itself. Let us expound on the GMP. “According to many philosophers, cultural or ethical relativism cannot work in pluralistic society because in such a society (for example, America) there are many sub-cultures.
The theory assumes that everybody in the country has a homogeneous (that is, one) cultural upbringing. Because of what the theory says, it would lead to too much fighting between the sub-cultures. “Indeed, if right were determined solely by what we took to be right, then it would not be at all clear what we are doing when we try to decide whether something is right or wrong in the first place—since we could never be mistaken! Certainly this is a muddled doctrine. Most likely its proponents have meant to emphasize that each person must determine for himself as best he can what actually is right or to argue that we ought not to blame people for acting according to their sincere moral judgment. “Sociological relativism teaches that different cultures have different values; however; they do make any judgment on affirming or rejecting these values. Cultural relativism is illogical because (a) it assumes that the majority in a given culture speak for everybody; (b) it assumes that because people disagree on some things, they disagree on everything. ” According to Ethical (or Cultural) Relativism, “If you culture says that something is right, it is right for you and your culture; if your culture says that something is wrong, it is wrong for you and your culture” (GMP) (Mundia, 2005).
In light of this, the question I researched this was: “Do most Americans approve or disapprove or Euthanasia? ” According to my research on polling and survey data since June 1990 to the present, most Americans approve of Euthanasia. “In a poll taken by the Gallup Organization on May 8-11, 2006, it was found that 67% of those polled approved of euthanasia, 27% disapproved and 4% neither approved nor disapproved. The poll was taken among a cross section of adults in the Gallup Organization.
The sample polled included 1,002 people. The question presented to participants asked: ‘When a person has a disease that cannot be cured, do you think doctors should be allowed by law to end the patient’s life by some painless means if the patient and his family request it’? (Unknown)” “In a poll taking by CBS News/New York Times between June 1990 and Jan 2006, it was found that, on average, 53% of those polled approved of euthanasia, and, on average, 39% disapproved and 7% neither approved nor disapproved.
The poll was taken among a cross section of adults. The sample polled included 1,229 people. The question presented to participants asked: ‘If a person has a disease that will ultimately destroy their mind or body and they want to take their own life, should a doctor be allowed to assist the person in taking their own life, or not’? ” “In a poll taking by Fox News in October of 2006, it was found that 48% of those polled approved of euthanasia, 39% disapproved and 13% neither approved nor disapproved.
The poll was taken among a cross section or registered voters. The sample polled included 900 adults. The question presented to the participants asked: ‘Do you favor or oppose legalizing physician-assisted suicide for terminally ill patients’? ” “In a poll by Pew Research Center between March 2001 and July 2005, it was found that 84% of those polled approved of euthanasia, 10% disapproved and 6% neither approved nor disapproved. The poll was taken among a cross section of adults. The sample polled did not include an exact number of people.
The question presented to the participants asked: ‘In some states, it’s legal to stop medical treatment that is keeping a terminally ill patient alive, or never start the treatment in the first place, if that’s what the patient wants. Do you approve or disapprove of laws that let PATIENTS decide about being kept alive through medical treatment’? ” “In a poll by The Harris Poll in April of 2005, it was found that, on average, 65% of those polled approved of euthanasia, 29% disapproved and 4% neither approved nor disapproved.
The poll was taken among a cross section of adults. The sample polled included 1,010 adults. The question presented to the participants asked: ‘Do you think that the law should allow doctors to comply with the wishes of a dying patient in severe distress who asks to have his or her life ended, or not’? ” “In a poll taken by ABC News in March 2002, it was found that 48% of those polled disapproved of euthanasia, 40% approved and 12% neither approved nor disapproved. The poll was taken among a cross section of adults. The sample polled included 1,021 adults.
The question presented to the participants asked: ‘Do you think it should be legal or illegal for doctors to help terminally ill patients commit suicide by giving them a prescription for fatal drugs’? ” Applying the Divine Command Theory of Morality to Euthanasia: The formal argument that Divine Command theorist would use in delivering the morality of Euthanasia would most likely run as follows:
Premise 1: According to the Divine Command Theory of Morality, “What God commands (or allows) is right and, conversely, what God forbids (or condemns) is immoral” [GMP].
Premise 2: Research reveals that Most Americans neither command nor forbid Euthanasia [FC].
Conclusion: Therefore, according to the Divine Command Theory of Morality, euthanasia is neither right nor wrong in itself. Let us expound on the GMP. According to Arthur, “it may seem, however, that we have still not really gotten to the heart of the matter. Even if religion is not necessary for moral motivation or guidance, it is often claimed, religion is necessary in another more fundamental sense. According to this view, religion is necessary for morality because without God there could be no right or wrong.
God, in other words, provides the foundation or bedrock on which morality is grounded. ” This idea was expressed by Bishop R. C. Mortimer: “God made us and all the world. Because of that He has an absolute claim on our obedience…From [this] it follows that a thing is not right simply because we think it is. It is right because God commands it (Mortimer, 1950). ” “What Bishop Mortimer had in mind can be seen as by comparing moral rules with legal ones. Legal statues, we know, are created by legislatures; if the state assembly of New York has not passed a law limiting the speed people can travel, then there would be no such legal obligation.
Without the stationary enactments, such a law simply would not exist. Mortimer’s view, the divine-command theory, would mean that God has the same sort of relation to moral law as the legislature has to statutes it enacts: without God’s commands there would be no moral rules, just as without a legislature there would be no statutes. Defenders of the divine-command theory often add to this a further claim, that only by assuming God sits at the foundation of morality can we explain the objective difference between right and wrong. ” The question of focus is: Does God—in the Bible, command or forbid euthanasia?
The Bible, clearly, neither commands nor forbids euthanasia. “First, humans are not allowed to take human life for selfish reasons. Just war and capital crimes death sentences sanctioned by the state are the only justifiable ways to take away a human’s life. Any other act of life-taking in a calculated, premeditated way is wrong in God’s eyes. ” Exodus 20:13 reads, “You Shall Not Murder. ” Genesis 9:5-6 reads, in the New International Version, “And for your lifeblood I will surely demand an accounting. I will demand an accounting from every animal. And from each man, too, I will demand an accounting for the life of his fellow man.
Whoever sheds the blood of a man, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of God has God made man. ”” “Secondly, suicide in the Bible is mentioned only casually and without too much comment other than noting the contexts of each case as abnormal and unacceptable either socially or morally” . Matthew 27:3-5 reads, “Then Ju’das, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, what is that to us? See thou to that.
And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. ” 2nd Samuel 17:23 says, “And when A-hith’o-phel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father. ” “Thirdly, voluntary euthanasia that is [medically] assisted is also frowned upon considering that King Saul’s asking for his servant to finish him off—resulted in the servant’s own death for failure to honor the King in taking his life. 2nd Samuel 1:9-10 reads, “He said unto me again, Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me. So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them hither unto my lord. ” James Rachels does not defend euthanasia directly; instead, he argues that if we are going to use euthanasia, then we should active rather than passive and means to kill.
Not only is it more humane, but widely respected distinction between killing and letting die, he argues, makes no moral difference. John Rachels makes several points about Euthanasia. He says that, “It is not exactly correct to say that in passive euthanasia the doctor does nothing, for he does do one thing that is very important: he lets the patient die. “Letting someone die”, is certainly different, in some respects, from other types of action—manly in that it is a kind of action that one may perform by way of not performing certain other actions. He also says, “The decision to let a patient die is subject to moral appraisal in the same way that a decision to kill him would be subject to moral appraisal: it may be assessed as wise or unwise, compassionate or sadistic, right or wrong. If a doctor deliberately let a patient die who was suffering from a routinely curable illness, the doctor would certainly be to blame for what he had done, just as he would e to blame if he had needlessly killed the patient.
Applying Ethical Egoism to Euthanasia: The formal argument that Ethical Egoist would use in delivering the morality of Euthanasia would most likely run as follows:
Premise 1: According to Ethical Egoism, “It is morally right for each individual to pursue what will bring about his or her own rational self-interest; conversely, it is morally wrong for an individual to be forced to do things put other people’s interests above the individual in question” [GMP] .
Premise 2: While it is in some people’s rational self-interest to engage in or allow euthanasia, it is in some other people rational self-interest not to engage in or allow euthanasia [FC].
Conclusion: Therefore, according to Ethical Egoism, euthanasia is neither right nor wrong in itself. Let us expound of the GMP, “Egoism expounds and promotes the idea of individual rational self-interest. Ethical Egoism is a most influential theory because, first, it rightly notes that human beings are selfish by nature; and secondly, most of Western Capitalism is based on this theory. “Three of the leading problems with egoism are, First, It is stated in such a way that we could not know if it was false. Secondly, Happiness is not the only moral value that human beings can or should pursue. Finally, Happiness is not best achieved by pursuing individual self-interest. ” “Ethical Egoism, which relies on psychological egoism, is a theory about morality. (It tells us how we ought to act). It is not wrong to act according to our nature. ”
According to Ethical Egoists, “It is morally right for each individual to pursue what will bring about his or her own rational self-interest; conversely, it is morally wrong for an individual to be forced to do things put other people’s interests above the individual in question”(GMP) (Mundia, 2007). In light of this principle, Ethical Egoists say that the practice Euthanasia is right because if the patient wants a doctor to let them die without any kind of treatment that is something that is in their interest to be done.
It is in anybody’s rational self-interest to allow euthanasia because, according to James Rachels, “it must be done. ” He goes on to say, “Not only is it more humane, but the widely respected distinction between killing and letting die, he argues, makes no moral difference. ” Rachels goes on to argue that “the most important difference between active and passive euthanasia is that, in passive euthanasia, the doctor does not do anything to bring about the patient’s death. The doctor does nothing, and the patient dies of whatever ills already afflict him.
In active euthanasia, however, the doctor does something to bring about the patient’s death; he kills him. The doctor who gives the patient with cancer a lethal injection has himself caused his patient’s death; whereas if he merely ceases treatment, the cancer is the cause of the death. ” Is it in anybody’s rational self-interest not to allow euthanasia because, “it is inherently wrong for people to kill themselves and that euthanasia is a dangerous social policy. ” Dyck proposes another approach which he terms “benemortasia” which is “good death”” .
Dyck goes on to say that “The arguments for euthanasia focus upon two humane and significant concerns: compassion for those who are painfully and terminally ill and concern for the human dignity associated with freedom of choice. ” “The argument for compassion usually occurs in the form of attacking the inhumanity of keeping dying people alive when they are in great pain or when they have lost almost all of their usual functions, particularly when they have lost the ability or will to communicate with others.
The argument of compassion is supplemented by an argument for greater freedom for a patient to choose how and when he or she will die. ” The thesis of this report is though Ethical Relativist say that Euthanasia is right, the Divine Command Theory and Ethical Egoist say that the practice of Euthanasia is neither right nor wrong. In light of what these theories have concluded, I think that we should change the way we think about the practice.
I say that because when I was reviewing the Ethical Egoists opinions, they had some really strong arguments, especially referring to patients in the hospital and how they are really sickly sometimes they don’t want to suffer any more than they have to. It kind of changed my perspective of euthanasia in a way. I absolutely believe that we should change how we deal with the practice of euthanasia because we have to consider the patients and how they may feel.
I think that if the patient wants to die because they are suffering too much, than that should be their free will and privilege.
Works Cited Dyck, A. J. (2008). Morality and Moral Controversies. Pearson Prentice Hall . Mifflin, H. (1992). The American Heritage Dictionary. Mortimer, R. (1950). In Christian Ethics (pp. 7-8). London, England: Hutchinson’s University Library. Unknown. (n. d. ). Gallup Organization. Retrieved from ProCon: www. procon. com
Get access to
Guarantee No Hidden