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A dignified death?
For some people, the most important question about euthanasia is "Is it ever right to kill an
innocent human being?" Deontologists believe we all need rules to live by, and everyone
recognises the power behind the rule "Do not kill". Where does this rule come from, and why
should we keep it? Some people choose to break this rule in some circumstances.
Teleologists believe there are occasions when 'the end justifies the means'.
There are other issues raised by euthanasia, however. If euthanasia was legal, what effect
would this have on the elderly, people with disabilities, the terminally ill? It isn't merely a
consequentialist consideration weighing up the amount of anxiety caused by a change in law.
It is about the way we view people. Are some lives worth less than others?
Euthanasia is one of the most difficult ethical issues you will face. Even if you know what you
value most, if you have chosen an ethical theory that you are really happy with, the answer won't
be straightforward. What if I believe in the sanctity of life, that all humans should be given
dignity and respect how should I respond to a dying person's plea to help them have a
Approach this issue with an open mind and careful attention to detail. Consider
the issues separately, and apply the ethical theories carefully. I hope you find the content on this
site helpful. It is aimed particularly at RS Philosophy and Ethics students, and anyone who is
interested in the euthanasia debate. This site examines a Christian response to euthanasia
alongside ethical responses. There are some resources particularly aimed at A level RS
students. There are also book reviews, links to other websites (including news reports)
and multimedia resources. We have started developing interactive quizzes, and A level
Philosophy and Ethics students can find help with past exam questions.
Euthanasia is an issue which may touch the lives of any of us, and I believe that studying ethics
can help prepare us for things that life throws at us. If you are reading this because you are
currently facing a personal decision about euthanasia, you may find it helpful to speak to a
counsellor to talk through these issues, as your feelings at this time might influence your
thinking. This is in fact a key feature in many responses to euthanasia to what degree can
anyone faced with this decision act in an objective way?
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Right to Life
Does everyone have a right to life?
Jeremy Bentham famously dismissed all talk of rights, and said that talk of 'natural rights' was
'nonsense on stilts'. Yet in 1948, following the atrocities of the Holocaust, the United Nations
declared that all human beings had basic rights, including the right to life.
When does the right to life begin? This question is covered in the sections on abortion
and Embryo Research.…read more