Past question plan- "Utilitarianism is the best approach to euthanasia"

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  • 'Utilitarianism is the best approach to euthanasia'
    • Considers everyone- family, friends, healthcare, the elderly who may feel pressured to have euthanasia
    • Can lead to the greatest happiness of the greatest number
    • Respects the patient's personal autonomy and self determination. J.S.M.- "Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign"
    • Considers many of the factors concerned with euthanasia, rather than pointblank refusing it (i.e. Natural Law seeing it as against human purpose)
    • Acknowledges the quality of life, rather than needlessly continuing brutal pain and misery
    • Can we really predict the consequences of euthanasia if it were universalisable?
    • Requires no religious beliefs- atheists, Christians, Hindus etc could apply it
    • Those who request euthanasia may have judgement clouded by pain or depression- Utilitarianism demands we think things through before making rash decisions
    • How do we objectively measure the pleasure/ pain caused by euthanasia?
    • A dying old man wants to live, but his illness is causing his family grief and puts a strain on the NHS. Utilitarianism would say let's kill him!!!
    • What if we use euthanasia for someone dying of an illness... and a cure is found the next day?
    • How exactly do we make euthanasia a universal rule?
    • Preference Utilitarianism demands we view euthanasia as an 'impartial spectator', seeing the important wider picture
    • The outcome may not be the most loving- Situation Ethics may be best for ensuring death only comes out of agape love, rather than for majority happiness
    • Holds a clear stand against irrationality. James Rachels- "firmly resists 'corruption' by possibly irrational elements"
    • Benefits all human beings, who are treated equally
    • Even if some close to the patient oppose the procedure, sometimes the greater good- which Utilitarianism allows- demands some sacrifices
    • Sidgewick's Utilitarianism considers the intention important- a key point, as this rejects evil intentions as in Nazi Germany's euthanasia programme
    • Can make sense- how can keeping someone in great pain and dying for as long as possible benefit anyone?
    • It's natural to consider consequences- we could say all euthanasia was immoral, but does this seem right as we watch someone in immense pain who wants to die and deny them this? Utilitarianism  considers the patient, who is more important than rigid rules
    • Straightforward to apply, as it focuses on the single attractive principle of happiness
    • Too subjective- we all have different measures of happiness. Could we perhaps focus more on OUR pleasure, rather than the pain of others?
    • Euthanasia concerns an entire life- the number of people they may have had an impact on may be too immense
    • Injustices such as the Nazi euthanasia programme may be accepted, as the majority have pleasure from it
    • Can treat individuals as means to an end
  • Can treat individuals as means to an end


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