ACTIVE AND PASSIVE EUTHANASIA JAMES RACHELS PDF

James Rachels, a philosopher and medical ethicist who wrote some of the most influential works on euthanasia, arguing that the legal distinction between killing and passively allowing a patient's death had no rational basis, died on Friday at a hospital in Birmingham, Ala. He was In , Dr. Euthanasia then was generally condemned and terminally ill patients rarely refused medical treatment. Rachels, who spent much of his career as a philosophy professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, broke ground by arguing that actively killing a patient with a terminal illness was no worse morally than letting the person die by doing nothing.

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Biomedical Ethics and the Law pp Cite as. The intentional termination of the life of one human being by another—mercy killing—is contrary to that for which the medical profession stands and is contrary to the policy of the American Medical Association.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF. Skip to main content. This service is more advanced with JavaScript available. Advertisement Hide. The distinction between active and passive euthanasia is thought to be crucial for medical ethics.

The idea is that it is permissible, at least in some cases, to withhold treatment and allow a patient to die, but it is never permissible to take any direct action designed to kill the patient. This doctrine seems to be accepted by most doctors, and is endorsed in a statement adopted by the House of Delegates of the American Medical Association on December 4, The intentional termination of the life of one human being by another—mercy killing—is contrary to that for which the medical profession stands and is contrary to the policy of the American Medical Association.

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White text The Conventional Doctrine endorsed by the American Medical Association : In certain situations, passive euthanasia "letting die" is morally permissible. However, active euthanasia physician-assisted death is never morally permissible. Doctors can withhold treatment in many circumstances, and does nothing wrong if the patient dies, but the doctor must never, ever "kill" the patient. In situations for which passive euthanasia is permissible under this justification, there are no morally sound reason for prohibiting active euthanasia, and in some cases, active euthanasia is morally preferable to passive euthanasia. Rachels says that he can understand someone who opposes both active and passive euthanasia as immoral practices, but cannot make sense of approving of one and not the other. The basis of the conventional doctrine is the distinction between "killing" and "letting die," together with the assumption that the difference between killing and letting die must, by itself and apart from further consequences, constitute a genuine moral difference. Although most actual cases of killing are morally worse than most actual cases of letting die, we are more familiar with cases of killing especially the terrible ones that are reported in the media , but we are less familiar with the details of letting die.

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James Rachels, Ethicist, 62; Ignited Euthanasia Debate

British Broadcasting Corporation Home. The moral distinction between active and passive euthanasia, or between "killing" and "letting die". Is there a real difference? Active euthanasia occurs when the medical professionals, or another person, deliberately do something that causes the patient to die. 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.

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Active and passive euthanasia

Rachel's first two arguments are sound if one is a Utilitarian. But even if one were not a Utilitarian, it seems that Rachels' third argument is inescapably sound. It follows that, indeed, the AMA's policy on euthanasia is seriously misguided, which is just a nice way of saying that it is blatantly false. Behind all this is the safe assumption that morality should drive policy. Statement of the AMA :.

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Active and Passive Euthanasia

Biomedical Ethics and the Law pp Cite as. The intentional termination of the life of one human being by another—mercy killing—is contrary to that for which the medical profession stands and is contrary to the policy of the American Medical Association. Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF. Skip to main content. This service is more advanced with JavaScript available. Advertisement Hide.

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