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Ethics
Health
Philosophy
Ethical aspects of euthanasia (Greek for "good death"), a physician-assisted suicide of a patient with a goal of ending the suffering from a terminal or incurable illness, were debated since the times of Hippocrates. Since then, although modern medicine made a great deal of progress, euthanasia and its validity as a medical practice still leads to controversies. Should a patient in great suffering be able to end his life with the help of a doctor?

Positions

Arguments supporting this position

Details

Context

Opponents of voluntary, active euthanasia often are worried, that the legalization of the aforementioned practice gives too much power and responsibility to physicians treating the patients. Since a patient would make a decision based on a diagnosis made by his physician, the risk of faulty diagnosis must be taken into account.

The Argument

Doctors and physicians are fallible and medical literature knows seemingly hopeless cases, which ended with a patient’s recovery. With that in mind, the finality of applied euthanasia means that it is inevitable, that some patients that could be cured will die because of a faulty or incomplete diagnosis, based on which they made a request for euthanasia. Such risk, in light of the Hippocrates oath and the sanctity of life, is unacceptable.

Counter arguments

The possibility of such situations does not imply, that the practice of euthanasia is as a whole unethical or unjustified. In cases, where multiple doctors agreed beyond a reasonable doubt that the illness is terminal, a very unlikely possibility of an error is not enough to deny an option of a voluntary, active euthanasia.

Premises

A physician is responsible for making a diagnosis. A physician, as a human being, is fallible and prone to error. Therefore, if we cannot rule out a possibility of an unwarranted death based on faulty diagnosis, we shouldn't legalize the voluntary, active euthanasia.

Rejecting the premises

The very unlikely scenario of a sudden recovery cannot be the justification for withholding a euthanasia for patients, who suffer gravely and will die beyond a reasonable doubt.

References

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This page was last edited on Sunday, 2 Sep 2018 at 12:16 UTC