Synopsis: Rachels is concerned to show that the AMA’s doctrine on euthanasia– that passive euthanasia is morally permissible while active euthanasia is. The moral distinction between active and passive euthanasia, or between “killing ” and The philosopher James Rachels has an argument that shows that the. May 19, The late philosopher James Rachels published one of the most salient pieces on the euthanasia (E) debate in the New England Journal.

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Rachels denies that killing is intrinsically that is, in itself worse than letting die. Although most actual cases of killing are morally worse than most actual cases of letting die, we are more familiar with cases of killing especially the terrible ones that are reported in the mediabut we are less familiar with the details of letting die.

They are not intended for publication or general distribution. That is, voluntary passive euthanasia is permissible. To accept this argument we have to agree that the best action is one the which causes the greatest happiness or perhaps the least unhappiness for the patient and perhaps for the patient’s relatives and carers too. The doctor gives A a lethal injection – A becomes unconscious within seconds and dies within an hour.

Therefore 5 CDE is not true. Accordingly, Rachels considers the following argument. Arthur Hugh Clough So allowing the patient to continue to live in this state is a greater evil than causing their death.

Hence, it is a mistake to think that killing is intrinsically worse than letting die.

If acting in accordance with CDE leads to decisions about passive euthanasia being made on irrelevant grounds, then CDE is false. The distinction between passive and active euthanasia rests on the mistaken assumption that rachsls is worse than letting die.


Smith will gain a large inheritance if his six-year-old cousin dies. Some mostly philosophers go even further and say that active euthanasia is morally better because it can be quicker and cleaner, and it may be less painful for the patient. Therefore 6 CDE is true.

Simon Blackburn, Oxford Dictionary actuve Philosophy. Care of the Dying.

Active and passive euthanasia.

Jones is delighted at his good fortune, and stands by as the child drowns. Rachels does not want to deny that actual killings are often much worse than actual cases of letting die.

And if the lazy doctor defended himself to Ethanasia mother by saying, “I didn’t kill him. Preferring active to passive euthanasia This section is written from the presumption that there are occasions when euthanasia is morally OK. Rachels is concerned to show that the AMA’s doctrine on euthanasia–that passive euthanasia is morally permissible while active euthanasia is morally impermissible, the so-called Conventional Doctrine on Euthanasia CDE –is false.

But in most cases of right and wrong we do think that intention matters, and if we were asked, we would probably say that Smith was a worse person than Jones, because he euthanasiaa to kill. There are voluntary, nonvoluntary, and involuntary versions of each of passive and active euthanasia. But this isn’t necessarily so:. But this isn’t necessarily so: The person, suffering from terrible pain that can no longer be alleviated, asks the doctor to end his life.

And the CMA has recently recommended that doctors not engage in assisted suicide or active euthanasia.

They should be read as such. But the conventional doctrine often adds a requirement of suffering before dying.

While the child is taking a bath one evening, Smith sneaks into the bathroom and drowns him. In certain situations, passive euthanasia “letting die” is morally permissible. If CDE is true then passive euthanasia never produces more suffering than active euthanasia. Statement of the AMA: Active euthanasia is morally better because it can be quicker and cleaner, and it may be less painful for the patient. A is in great pain, despite high doses of painkilling drugs.


Thou shalt not kill but needst not strive, officiously, to keep alive. These are class notes, intended to comment on readings and amplify class discussion. As Rachels notes, the AMA takes a similar stand. A person might well not want to be killed even in this situation, if their beliefs or opinions were not against active euthanasia. British Broadcasting Corporation Home.

A asks his doctor to end it all.

BBC – Ethics – Euthanasia: Active and passive euthanasia

Religion and Ethics home Religions. Passive euthanasia is not doing anything. Acting in accordance with CDE leads to decisions about passive euthanasia being made on irrelevant grounds. In situations for which passive euthanasia is permissible under this justification, there are no morally sound reason for prohibiting active euthanasia, and in some cases, active euthanasia is morally preferable to passive euthanasia.

The basis of the conventional doctrine is the distinction between “killing” and “letting die,” together with the assumption that the difference between killing and letting die must, by itself and apart from further consequences, constitute a genuine moral difference. Let’s suppose that the reason A wants to die is because he wants to pssive suffering pain, and that that’s the reason the doctor is willing to allow euthanasia in each case.