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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Therefore, in many cases where it is right to let a patient die, it is also right to practice active euthanasia. Argument A 1 If CDE is true then passive euthanasia never produces more suffering than active euthanasia. Euthanasiaa course you can’t.

Causing death is a great evil if death is a great evil. Some medical people like this idea. First argument against paxsive conventional doctrine is that many cases of “letting die” are WORSE for the patient than is killing them.

The rule that we should treat other people as we would like them to treat us also seems to support euthanasia, if we would want to be put out of our misery if we were in A’s position. Statement of the AMA: A is in great pain, despite high doses of painkilling drugs. If the child had not been born with the defect, however, it would have been allowed to live.

The doctrine that it makes an ethical difference whether an agent actively intervenes to bring about a result, or omits to act in circumstances in which it is foreseen that as a result of the omission the same result occurs. If the patient is going to die either way, why is it morally permissible to dehydrate them to death?


These are class notes, intended to comment on readings and amplify class discussion. Passive euthanasia Passive euthanasia occurs when the patient dies because the medical professionals either don’t do something necessary to keep the patient alive, or when they stop doing something that is keeping the patient alive.

If CDE is true then killing is morally worse than letting die. They will let the child die.

Behind all this is the safe assumption that morality should drive policy. But what makes the killings worse is not the bare fact that they involve a killing, but other background facts about the cases e. 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. Hence, it is a mistake to think that killing is intrinsically worse than letting die.

Thus suppose I wish you dead, if I act to bring about your death I am a murderer, but if I happily discover you in danger of death, and fail to act to save you, I am not acting, and therefore, according to the doctrine, not a murderer. But this still won’t satisfy some people.

Jones is delighted at his good fortune, and stands by as the child drowns. We can euhhanasia at this situation is another way: In law Smith is guilty of murder and Jones isn’t guilty of anything. Or, if one thinks that it is better that such an rachelw not live on, what difference does it make that it happens to have an obstructed intestinal tract?

Active euthanasia is worse than passive euthanasia.


Active and passive euthanasia.

Second argument is the Bathtub Example of Smith and Jones. Table of Contents for the Online Textbook. Why is passive euthanasia thought to be permissible in this kind of case? You might argue that we can’t compare the case of a doctor who is trying to passsive their best for their patient with Smith and Jones who are obvious villains.

James Rachels on Euthanasia Notes – Applied Ethics

In that case, we might think that the doctor had a good defence against accusations of unethical behaviour. The humane thing to do is to let the patient die.

Only rules that apply to everyone can be accepted One well-known ethical principle says that we should only be guided by moral principles that we would accept should be followed by everyone.

If the patient dies as a result of the doctor switching off the respirator then although it’s certainly true that the patient dies from lung cancer or whateverit’s also true that the immediate cause of their death is the switching off of the breathing machine. Thou shalt not kill but needst not strive, officiously, to keep alive.

James Rachels: “Active and Passive Euthanasia”

Let’s suppose that the reason A wants to die is because he wants to stop suffering pain, and that that’s the reason the doctor is willing to allow euthanasia in each case.

Active euthanasia is a lesser evil than passive euthanasia. In certain situations, passive euthanasia “letting die” is morally permissible. Therefore 3 CDE is false.