Notes - Utilitarianism on euthanasia

some notes i typed up from my euthanasia lesson , may not be excellent

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Utilitarianism on euthanasia
Preference Utilitarianism is one of the most popular forms of Utilitarianism today; Unlike the
`classical' idea of maximising happiness and to minimise pain, it deals with attempting to fulfil the
interests or preferences of people involved.The idea of good and bad is not one which takes
precedence a majority of the time because the ideals and goals that someone has set is good or right
for them thus if someone else had a different idea of right this would make another's wrong.
Preference utilitarianism is important in medical and nursing ethics. Autonomy of the individual is a
key consideration here. Doctors should not be allowed to follow their own wishes, or research
interests, in determining treatment. Patients come first: that is basic to framing professional ethics.
But can 'the wishes of a patient' necessarily always be followed? What is the patient seeks his or her
own harm; the difficulty is in establishing criteria which all can accept for what constitutes benefit of
harm. Utilitarianism only works if one can assess the results of an action, and decide whether or not,
on balance, they are to the advantage of all concerned. Hence, a utilitarian will consider the
preferences of the mother, in the case of abortion, along with the potential harm to other children in
the family, for example. In the case of euthanasia, the utilitarian balance is between the advantages
of life rather than death, both for the person concerned but also for their relatives, friends and
However Act Utilitarianism is the general understanding of how much pleasure will be gained from an
action, making it more morally distinctive. It a Teleological Theory. The Teleological ethical theory is
the idea of the consequences or `ends' are the factor by which you judge that something is either
good or bad. Rule Utilitarianism is the concept of following moral rule which will bring about a degree
of happiness. This is a form of Deontological ethics. The Deontological ethical philosophy is the
concept that follows the idea of rules and regulation that should be morally correct.
Euthanasia means mercy killing, It is the intentional premature ending of another's life either by direct
means (active euthanasia) or by withholding medical treatment, food or hydration (passive
euthanasia), because the patient asks for it (voluntary euthanasia) or without their express request
(involuntary euthanasia). It is illegal in the UK but is legal in some countries like The Netherlands.
Voluntary Euthanasia is not murder. Killing humans that don't want to live is not wrong. It isn't wrong
by helping them to die because they are already dying. Voluntary Euthanasia is merciful, Mercy for
those suffering with intolerable pain. Rather die than live in misery. A Torturing and lingering pain, so
that there is no hope either of recovery or ease. Voluntary Euthanasia gives people full autonomy;
we expect control of our bodies in life so therefore we should have control in matters of death.
Euthanasia Maintains dignity, Self-respect because having control over my life is a way of enhancing
my human dignity.
A case study comes from Diane Pretty- aged 43:
Suffered from motor neurone disease- her mind is as sharp as ever, but her muscles are inactive, has
to communicate through a voice keyboard, but no communications was possible near the end of her
life as her muscles complete seized, she was In a wheelchair and feel through a tube, Wanted to die
but was not physically able to kill herself and Wanted to die at home- a good death- with her family
around her and dignity, not suffer continually physically and emotionally. Asked her husband to help
and not be prosecuted Challenged the result in England in the house of lords, She addressed the fact

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In my own personal opinion I agree with J.S.Mills view in support of voluntary euthanasia, his theory
focused on free will and human freedom, mill believed that death would set the person free
therefore releasing them from the pain they had been suffering.
Kant's ethical theory is very different, It concerns the categorical imperative. The first formulation of
this is that you should act only in such a way that you could will the maxim (or principle) of you action
to become a universal law.…read more


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