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The final two arguments aim at establishing whether suicide can even be considered as the rational solution. The avoidance of harm refers to the commonly accepted view that hurting oneself is irrational because life is the most precious possession we own. Nonetheless, this argument seems to weaken if we consider the fact that in case of terminal illnesses, suicide can become harm-avoiding since it ends the pain and humiliation which prevent the patient from truly enjoying any aspect of life. From this perspective, we must identify the "greater evil" between death and suffering, thus establishing whether or not suicide is rational (Werth 19). The accordance with fundamental interests means that one's decisions must be in accordance with one's fundamental values (Williams, 1976, in Werth 19). This argument makes suicide seem like the irrational solution in any given case because it brings about the end of life which in turn, precludes the possibility of further action. However, one's interests can continue to be satisfied even if one is dead. We can talk about rational suicide when it expresses one's personal, moral or aesthetic convictions, and represents a refusal to lead what would become a "compromised existence." (Werth 22 and Velleman 607) This also greatly applies to euthanasia; I believe that since people have the right to lead their lives according to their own moral percepts, they should also be given the right to end it when life can no longer reflect these percepts.
Whether or not the decision to terminate one's life is rational is strongly linked to the deontological framework. Deontologists believe that human beings have the capacity to use reason in order to determine which their greatest welfare is. In this sense, they have the natural right, but also the capacity to decide that life is no longer worth-living; in fact, this decision appeals exactly to the faculties which are traditionally considered to separate man from animal, i.e. reasoning. From this point-of-view, Deontologists believe that the principle of Natural Law grants all humans the right to decide when to end their own lives; however, at the same time, Deontology argues that human beings are end in themselves in the sense that they are to be valued for what they are, and not for what they could or should achieve.
Kant developed this argument in the eighteenth century. His philosophy was centered on the idea that suicide represented the destruction of this unique value which resided in human life. He argued that there was no purpose strong enough to justify this destruction. This theory can also be applied to euthanasia whose purpose is to relieve pain and suffering. According to Deontologists, suicide and voluntary euthanasia are not ethically acceptable. However, it is rather unclear whether this concept is generally valid, and applicable to any situation, because Deontologists also believe that human life consists of much more than merely being alive, it involves the capacity to reason, as well as morals which in the case of some illnesses, are severely compromised. In this sense I would argue that many of those who turn to voluntary euthanasia in order to end their lives actually abide by the moral percept behind Deontology for they choose death over an existence which consists only of staying alive, and not of living.
To conclude, I would like to make one final point. Many people argue that euthanasia is not acceptable because of the slippery slope argument which holds that if a is allowed, B will soon follow, and B. is morally unacceptable; in this case, B would be involuntary euthanasia. I think that this is a false argument because there has been no evidence of such predictions. Also, I do not think that moral categories would change, and good would turn into bad; voluntary euthanasia should be accepted as the only dignified solution for those who choose it.
James L. Werth. Contemporary Perspectives on Rational Suicide. Psychology Press, 1998
Brock, Dan W. "A Critique of Three Objections to Physician-Assisted Suicide." Ethics 109. 3 (1999): 519-547.
Foot, Philippa. "Euthanasia." Philosophy and Public Affairs 6.2 (1977): 85-112.
Velleman, J. David. "A Right of Self-Termination?" Ethics 109.3 (1999): 606-628.
Telfer, Elizabeth. Philosophical approaches to…[continue]
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