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Can It Ever Be Moral To Cause The Death Of Another Human Being?

1968 words - 8 pages

In the common mind, to cause the death of another human being would be viewed as morally reprehensible, but as we look at the subject from different aspects, it becomes a much more complicated issue and not as clear cut as first perceived. Our view of morality may change depending on the circumstances we find ourselves in. Important issues such as euthanasia, suicide, abortion, capital punishment and wars have been discussed by philosophers through the ages trying to establish if the taking of a life can be morally justified.

Even though many people may have definite convictions such as opposing abortion under any circumstances, as they consider it to be murder, many anti abortionists in ...view middle of the document...

If I tell the truth because I fear getting into trouble or because I believe I will be rewarded for doing so, then my act is not morally worthy.
Deontologists say that every individual's life is valuable in itself, whereas Utilitarianists are criticized because they believe it is necessary in certain circumstances to sacrifice some lives for the sake of others. Deontological theories assert that there are some actions that are always wrong, no matter what the consequences. The best example of this is premeditated murder. Even though we can imagine situations in which intentionally killing one person may save the lives of many others, deontologists insist that intentional killing is always wrong. Killing in these circumstances is wrong (irrespective of how extreme the situations) because it means using the person as a means to an end, reducing the person to a commodity and not a human being. Among important deontologists are Thomas Aquinas and Emmanuel Kant Though deontologists often recognize self-defence and other special circumstances as excusable for killing, these are cases when the killing is not intentional.
One of the most contentious issues at the moment is euthanasia. In some countries like the Netherlands and Belgium, there are laws that permit euthanasia or assisted suicide. The difference between the two is based on who performs the last act that causes death. One of the justifications considered in this is the patients quality of life and should they be kept alive by being hooked to life support machines or be administered so many pain killing drugs that they are barely alive anyway.

In most countries, the law permits patients to withdraw unwanted medical treatment even if that increases the likelihood of death. It is argued that it is cruel and inhuman to keep a person alive against their wish if prolonging their life only causes more pain and suffering to them. Laws against euthanasia and assisted suicide are in place to prevent abuse and exploitation and to protect people from unscrupulous doctors. Even where laws are more relaxed about euthanasia and assisted suicide, there are debates as to what is meant by terminal illness. A new proposal in Australia if approved would make euthanasia and assisted suicide available to those who are "hopelessly ill". Being hopelessly ill according to the "Dignity in Dying bill of 2001" means when one has an injury or illness that will result or has resulted in serious mental impairment or permanent deprivation, or that serious and irreversibly impairs the person's quality of life so that life has become intolerable to that person. (http://www.dignityindying.org.uk/)There's even debate on whether the very old who are tired of life should be counted in this category. The other important question in this matter is about who makes the final decision for the application, the patient a relative or the doctor.

On the other hand there are arguments that pain control and management is well...

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