Ethics Investigation

HideShow resource information



  • Utilitarianism, with Euthanasia, using Benthams Hedonic calculus can be used to weigh up the pleasure and pain caused by two courses of action-in this case helping someone to die and not helping someone to die.
  • Bentham would consider the Intensity and Duration of the pain.
  • He would then weigh up the Extent and the Richness
  • He would also need to add up the loss of dignity (Purity) and consider the possibility of treatments in the future. (Certainty).
  • Bentham supports euthanaisa, as does Mill.
  • Mill would argue if your mind is still working then you should be able to enjoy a happy life, however someones with Alzheimers would be a different story.
  • Mill "if ones actions do not affect anyone else, i can do what i please".
1 of 7

Virtue Ethics


  • Taking the view of Virtue Ethics, Eudamonia means we have developed patience, temperance and courage etc...
  • When someone is terminally ill, Arisotle would hope that they hvae he courage to accept their fate.
  • In our society people are living longer and people with illnesses ar surviving when they wouldnt have before due to medical advances today, there may be huge financial benefits to society if those who are unproductive were given Euthanasia.
  • Older people who are suffering and ill are living today because todays medical knowledge allows medical staff to keep them alive, even if they wish not to be.
  • But financially if they were allowed to take teir lives then we wouldnt be spending money and resources on these people.
  • People today are an economic burden.
2 of 7

Situation Ethics


  • Situation ethics is easy to apply with Euthanasia. You can ignore rules about killing, because the most loving thing to do is to give someone a peaceful death. Situation ethics is Personal as it puts people before the rules. Its also Pragmatic, allowing us to do whatever works best in the circumstances. 
  • Its a relativist theory.
  • So when faced with a difficult decision we should act out of love.
  • Situationists may be worried that a law which allows Euthanasia may put pressure on those who do not want to die.
  • They may argue that there needs to be safeguards against the misuse of any rules on euthanaisa.
  • But they argue in favour of euthanasia.
3 of 7

Religious Ethics


  • With Religious Ethics, The catholic church is against euthanaisa, as they consider it to be like murder.
  • The catholic church supports putting a patient on a course of pain-killing drugs which could eventually lead to their death (double effect).
  • But the intent of administering the drugs has o be that it will reduce the pain for the patient, however this is only when the risk of death is high.
  • The Church of England also disagrees with Euthanasia. 
  • "God himself has given to humakind the gift of life".
  • We are stweards of life it is not ours to take away.
4 of 7

Natural Law


  • With Natural Law Euthanasia is always wrong.
  • You couldnt argue for assisted suicide, as the same principle would outlaw killing yourself even if you could justify helping someone to die, which is unlikely.
  • However we cant forget the double effect.
  • Its wrong to kill but is it wrong to adminster pain relief?
  • Once you accept death is a by-product of another action it brings about a utiliarianism type of consideration.
  • While natural law doesnt accept euthanasia, it may allow for an action whose intention is to relieve pain even if it leads to death.
5 of 7

Kant's Deontological Theory


  • On Euthanasia, Kants deontological view isnt interested in the suffering of the patients.
  • You shold not act out of love or compassion or kindness so he would disagree with situation ethics 'most loving thing to do'. if one person was allowed to die (universal maxim) then it would be okay for everyone to be helped to die.
  • The Categorical impreative says we should not use people as a means to an end. 
  • Kant said that killing someone to end their pain was using them as another end.
  • It also contrasts with virtue ethics aswell as situations ethics.
6 of 7


Euthanasia is still illegal in the UK today. Voluntary euthanasia or assisted sucide can lead up to 1 year in prison for offenders.

7 of 7


No comments have yet been made

Similar Ethics resources:

See all Ethics resources »See all Euthanasia resources »