Ethics in Practice, 2nd Edition (Blackwell Philosophy by Hugh LaFollette

By Hugh LaFollette

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Instead, I am merely pointing out that ruleutilitarianism seems to have implications that are more intuitively acceptable than those of act-utilitarianism (Brandt, 1963; 1967). 5 Kinds of Euthanasia We need to distinguish three different kinds of euthanasia, or rather three different ways euthanasia can be related to the will of the person killed. Suppose I ask you to either kill me or let me die should my medical condition get so bad that I am delirious and won't recover. If you then comply with my request, we have what is commonly called voluntary euthanasia.

Focus now on non-voluntary euthanasia euthanasia performed on people who have not indicated whether or not they want their lives to be prolonged. Some patients have never been in a position to give or withhold consent. This is true of individuals who never developed sufficient rationality to be capable of consenting. Any euthanasia performed on such people will be non-voluntary euthanasia. Rule-utilitarians might well think that a cost-benefit analysis of this sort of euthanasia would end up supporting it - given that the law is designed so as to ensure that the people making the final decision are experts with nothing but the best interests of the patient in mind.

But I am very far from an all-things-considered judgment. My argument is addressed to a question of public policy - namely, whether the law or the canons of medical practice should include a rule requiring, under specified circumstances, that caregivers honor a patient's request to be allowed or perhaps even helped to die. This question is distinct from the question whether anyone is ever morally entitled to be allowed or helped to die. I believe that the answer to the latter question is yes, but I doubt whether our moral obligation to facilitate some people's deaths is best discharged through the establishment of an institutional right to die.

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