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The philosophy for example recognizes that more than one person is involved in the euthanasia process. The person in most physical distress is the one afflicted with illness and requiring euthanasia as a solution. What deontology does not recognize is the suffering of family members. Consequentialism also considers the suffering of family members, who are emotionally and mentally distressed by observing the long-term suffering of the ill person. They are also often in financial distress because of increasing medical bills. When considered in this light, voluntary euthanasia has the best consequences for both the ill person and others suffering as a result of the illness.
When involuntary euthanasia is the question, the same arguments could hold. When the ill person is no longer rational, such as being in a coma or in a much deteriorated mental state, he or she can no longer significantly contribute to society. There is indeed no sense of happiness or the promotion of human rationality. The person also has no hope of self-development or promoting the self-development of others. In this sense, it is better for the person to be allowed to die. This is even more strongly the case if the family desires the person to die. Family members face the same mental and potentially financial distress of those in the case of voluntary euthanasia. In this case, the best consequence for most of the persons involved would then also be to let the ill person die.
Another dimension here is that the ill person could yet contribute in death by providing his or her healthy organs through donation to those who need them, or for medical research. This final action would have far-reaching consequences that would contribute to the quality of life and self-development in others. In both voluntary and involuntary euthanasia then, consequentialism suggests that the best consequences result from allowing euthanasia.
In my view, the consequentialist view appears to be the more favorable one. Deontology for example suggests that, regardless of distress levels for the family or person who suffers, life must be preserved at all costs if rationality is present. Furthermore, the deontological view that consequences can simply not be foreseen does not appear valid to me. If a terminally ill patient who wishes to die is granted this wish, certainly the consequences for the family members and the person him- or herself would be better than forcing the person to prolong endless suffering. Furthermore, in cases where the illness is very severe, pain killers are no longer effective, and constant suffering results for both the ill person and his or her loved ones. Hence, I feel the greater good is more important than any arbitrary adherence to fixed rules.
Another problem with fixed rules is the fact that they do not allow for the human factor. Human life is not ruled by fixed laws. Instead, laws are the consequence of human beings and their attempt to live at peace with each other. When this peace are threatened by the rules, they can and must be changed or even broken in order to preserve the well-being of all involved. Hence, I believe that the only persons who have the right to make the decision of life and death are those who suffer constantly and the family members affected by this.
Kay, C.D. Notes on Deontology. 1997. Retrieved from http://www.euthanasia.cc/telfer.html
Lacewing, M. And Pascal, J-M. Revise Philosophy for AS Level. 2007. New York: Routledge.
Ord, T. Consequentialism and Decision Procedures. University of Oxford, June 2005. Retrieved from http://www.amirrorclear.net/academic/papers/decision-procedures.pdf
Telfer, E. Philosophical approaches to the dilemma of death with dignity. Retrieved from http://www.euthanasia.cc/telfer.html
Kant's theory is an example of a deontological or duty-based ethics: it judges morality by examining the nature of actions and the will of agents rather than goals achieved. (Roughly, a deontological theory looks at inputs rather than outcomes.) One reason for the shift away from consequences to duties is that, in spite of our best efforts, we cannot control the future. We are praised or blamed for actions within our control, and that includes our willing, not our achieving. This is not to say that Kant did not care about the outcomes of our actions -- we all wish for good things. Rather Kant insisted that as far as the moral evaluation of our actions was concerned, consequences did not matter.[continue]
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