Killing Me Softly (on Euthanasia)

                     Photo: Bogdan I. Stanciu

The British Media calls him “Dr. Death”. Dr. Philip Nitschke, the pro-euthanasia campaigner from Australia, is back in the UK in order to to host seminars on suicide methods. The Independent wrote: “He is unlikely to be welcomed”. While Dr. Nitschke is even facing possible prosecution, I ask myself what is he fighting for, and why is the UK so vehemently against it?

Dr. Nitschke, who was nominated for several humanitarian awards, writes: “It seems we demand humans to live with indignity, pain and anguish…” He is therefore arguing that people should be allowed to help suffering people – who cannot inflict their death upon themselves – if they want to die. In Britain, like most European countries, euthanasia is a criminal offense.

Arguments against euthanasia

The church argues that we should not decide upon or own death, since our life has been given to us by the lord and it is only his right to take it again. (Descartes even argues that God exists since that is the only way to explain why we keep on existing.) Euthanasia is especially attacked by religions that see value in suffering. In a modern society and a secular state religion should have no impact on the laws that concern people that are not of the same confession. Further, it is quite obvious that most religions argue with believes and not substantial facts or maxims. (Plus: euthanasia takes place in the bible too; what about the Christian compassion?; God gave humans a free will, etc.)

Immanuel Kant argued that human beings are ends in themselves and should therefore not be treated as means. He also said that life has a value in itself. Consequently people argue  against euthanasia by claiming it to be using the human as means and not respecting its intrinsic value.

I think, it is a common misconception that death does not have a value in itself as well. In addition, we have to differentiate between means and end in various contexts. We need means for action, otherwise we would not be able to act and therefore cease to exist.  Kant implemented this second formulation of the categorical imperative to avoid Millian opportunism, but whether the formulation is applicable to this case or whether it is justifiable at all is disputed.

Another concern is the slippery slope, which means that euthanasia would soon lead to involuntary euthanasia, if it became legal. “We concluded that it was virtually impossible to ensure that all acts of euthanasia were truly voluntary”, said Lord Walton from the House of Lords.

This includes concerns that:

  • Health cost could lead doctors to kill patients in order to save money
  • Murder is easier to commit as soon as euthanasia is legal
  • People would take the opportunity to die because they think they are a psychological and financial burden for their relatives

In my opinion, a proper structured law, which demarcates the group of potential death-patients precisely and which defines the permissible circumstances exactly, should circumvent these problems to a large extent. Cases in Holland, which proved the fear to be true, were predominantly due to an unrefined law.

Some people think that euthanasia would devalue the lives of people who are sick or disabled, since euthanasia would connote that some lives are not worth living. To me it seems far fetched, that the voluntary act to die (because of personal suffering) could cause us to change our view on the value of other people’s lives who are evidently not in the same situation.

Arguments for euthanasia

  • People have a (human) right to die
  • Libertarian Argument: It promotes the interest of everyone and does not violate anyones rights.
  • Utalitarian argument: The overall happiness in the world is higher with euthanasia and does not promote the suffering of any individual.
  • It is a contradiction in our justice system to prohibit euthanasia
  • Death is not a bad thing, etc…

As you might have already noticed, I do not have enough time to get into depths, since there are too many arguments on either side. As far as I am concerned, it is crucial to allow a person to live a life with dignity. In the Sartreian sense this dignity is achieved or lost through our own actions as well as decisions and should not be defined by external powers. External forces upon our will should only be permitted, if our actions harm other people, which can be avoided if euthanasia is conducted with the correct and ridged precautions.

To read further arguments and to see how the UK stands towards euthanasia click here.



11 thoughts on “Killing Me Softly (on Euthanasia)

  1. Pingback: How to be good? (Mill vs. Kant) « Triptychon

  2. Pingback: Reconciliation with the grim reaper – is death bad? « Indo-German Philosophy by Krisha Kops

  3. I drop a leave a response when I especially enjoy a article on a blog or I have
    something to valuable to contribute to the conversation.
    It’s a result of the fire communicated in the article I browsed. And after this article Killing Me Softly (on Euthanasia) Indo-German Philosophy by Krisha Kops. I was actually moved enough to post a comment :) I actually do have a couple of questions for you if it’s allright.
    Is it only me or does it look as if like some of the
    remarks come across as if they are written by brain dead visitors?
    :-P And, if you are writing at other places, I’d like to follow you. Could you make a list all of all your public pages like your Facebook page, twitter feed, or linkedin profile?

  4. Hello There. I found your blog the use of msn. This is a really neatly written article.
    I will make sure to bookmark it and return to read extra
    of your helpful info. Thanks for the post.
    I’ll definitely comeback.

  5. Hi great website! Does running a blog such as this take a large
    amount of work? I’ve virtually no understanding of coding however I was hoping to start my own blog soon. Anyway, should you have any suggestions or tips for new blog owners please share. I understand this is off subject nevertheless I just had to ask. Many thanks!

  6. Hi, i think that i saw you visited my web site so i came to “return the favor”.I’m trying to find things to improve my web
    site!I suppose its ok to use some of your ideas!!

  7. We are a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community.
    Your web site provided us with valuable info to work on. You have done an impressive job
    and our entire community will be grateful to you.

  8. Before you know, probably only us old timers remember,
    you are anything like me you have to identify your web hosting services are one of the
    game, and others will entertain. The same game not available on angry birds friends cheats a local number which saves outstation charges.
    Meet Martyn, a 320×240 display screen. Com/winmo, the
    player. As the user, today the most appropriate example for this.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s