Is Assisted Dying Okay?

Assisted Dying

Part 1: Introduction

Is assisted dying okay? This age-old question has stirred debate for several decades. Physician-assisted dying (PAD), also known as physician-assisted suicide (PAS), is a harmful medicine that a patient willingly takes to take away their own life. On the other hand, euthanasia happens when a medical officer intentionally causes a patients’ loss of life (Goligher et al., 2017). There are a number of ethical problems associated with assisted dying. These include the advantages of life, the connection between assisted dying or euthanasia and retracting life support, whether the medical officer who is intentionally causing the loss of life of the patient is right or wrong, and careful administration of the medicine concerned with assisted dying in the urgently important care environment (Mandal et al., 2016). This paper will examine both the utilitarian, and deontological theories and their ethical arguments, explanation and defense, and objection and response of physician-assisted dying. Although PAD entails taking away someone’s life, the lack of improvement in the health of a terminally ill patient may justify it on some occasions, but that decision should be left to the patient.      

Part 2: Ethical Argument

What is the right thing to do when a terminally ill patient requests for PAD? Should the doctor preserve this patient’s life, or take it away? A patient should give their opinion and consent if this issue arises. The ethical argument arises from deciding the contradicting moral dilemmas or agreements with various varying solutions. They appear because of the social responsibilities to others in society as one person’s behavior affects other people. Our scientific query will be answered by examining theories. According to week three part two, the moral argument of the decision is based on the utilitarian context of reasoning whereby the outcome of the action justifies its moral validity. In this section, we will show how utilitarianism is validated. PAD is unjustified by both the Hippocratic oath and the American Medical Association (AMA) since the patient loses his or her life. PAS could be highly justified since the outcome intends to assist many (Mandal et al., 2016).

For instance, a terminally ill patient may decide to give consent to assisted death to redirect the money raised in his or her medical fund to finance other needs such as the education of relatives, payment of projects, and other family or income-generating activities. When a healthy individual enters a hospital to donate his body organs to four patients, the action will produce the greatest good to the largest number of people, although he or she will lose his or her life. Although saving four lives at the expense of one life is neither acceptable nor ethical, since this theory is focused on the greater good for the society, the outcome determines the means (Mandal et al., 2016).

Utilitarianism is validated by the outcomes of the intervention and as a result, it is also known as the consequentialist approach. In medical care, hospitals can set a target for the resuscitation of kids who have been born prematurely or how patients with burns will be treated depending on the availability of supplies and time. There are two kinds of utilitarianism: act and rule utilitarianism. Act utilitarianism is concerned with resolutions reached for each case examining the gains and damages advancing overall better results. In rule utilitarianism, gains or damages are ignored. The resolutions are guided by established regulations depending on the evidence, providing better directions in making resolutions than act utilitarianism (Mandal et al., 2016)

Part 3: Explanation and Defense

Although PAD contradicts the two and a half millennia old medical ethic of caring and healing, the practice is difficult to control, especially in circumstances where there is no hope that the patient will get well. The AMA insists that PAD doesn’t comply with a doctor’s role as a healer. Furthermore, the Hippocratic oath prohibits medical officers in carrying out PAD. Utilitarianism advocates that an individual should do things for the overall good – this is to say that the well-being of others, as well as that of oneself, should be considered. Jeremy Bentham and John Stuart Mill are two of the most famous philosophers associated with this theory. Anybody’s happiness is equally important. The theory is easily distinguished because of its neutrality and impartiality (Driver, 2009).

Everyone has the same reasons why they should advance the good – the practice is not peculiar to anyone. The foundational understanding of driving the theory begun before Jeremy Bentham developed his account of the theory. Richard Cumberland and John Gay were among the earliest ‘theological’ utilitarian thinkers. These two early philosophers believed that advancing human satisfaction was our obligation because God established it. Gay believed that it is only God who can either make us happy or miserable. He also believed that virtue is the will of God. An individual’s salvation, everlasting joy, depends on their obedience to God’s will, just like virtue (Driver, 2009).

William Paley developed a theological approach to utilitarianism, but it was later dismissed since it did not have any theoretical importance in appealing to God. In the 16th century, Anthony Ashley Cooper was one of the first “moral sense” scholars who thought that we have an “inner eye” that helps us discern what is moral and what is not. In the 17th century, Francis Hutcheson and David Hume also adopted this doctrine. Ideally, virtue has instrumental value and constitutes a good life. An individual without morals lacks virtue and consequently, can’t advance good. At times, doing good requires great sacrifices. Virtuous actions should remain free (Driver, 2009).

A plain dependence on insight can’t work out the hostility between values, for example, truth and justice, that may be at odds. In such circumstances, we may need higher standards to resolve an issue – utilitarianism. Furthermore, the guidelines that are seen to be an essential part of sound judgment morality are often ambiguous and undisclosed, and putting them into use will require interest to an entity that is more fundamental -once again, that is utilitarianism. Additionally, a perfect understanding of guidelines appears unreasonable, and inspite of this, we need reasons for any omissions – which are once again provided by utilitarianism (Driver, 2009).

Utilitarianism is a concept that emphasizes that happiness is the key to morality, and is therefore an alternative to Kantianism. In most of the 19th Century, British and American theorists acknowledged that utilitarianism was one of the primary options in moral theory. Many people still think that utilitarianism is a cause of morally unacceptable resolutions. Kant argued that when utilitarianism justifies the end as the cumulative increase of individual good, it perceives the human society as one that is led by one prudential reasoner (Kant, 2008).

Part 4: Objection and Response

The views of deontological theory contradict the utilitarian suggestions indicated above. Even when the patient experiences harm, more people will benefit from the selflessness of that patient. Informed consent allows the patient to determine the direction of their treatment. The outcome of their actions is justified. On the one hand, deontologists would argue that killing is unacceptable since it is unlawful to take away life.  However, a patient should have a say on this matter. Assisted dying is banned in various countries although, in America, it may vary depending on the State. PAD may be abused or patients coerced to accept to die voluntarily.

We have a responsibility to other people in honor of their identity to give them basic respect despite how many people’s joy will be negatively touched by the activity in question. This deontological view places a caveat on some utilitarian views. These two thoughts in decision making contradict each other. While the deontological approach states that outcomes may not dictate the ways and justify the biggest gains to attain it, whereas the utilitarian approach says that good actions should benefit the greatest number of people. The deontological approach is centered on patients. Actions based on deontology may be suitable for a person, but won’t necessarily help society (Mandal et al., 2016).

The relationship between a doctor and a patient is deontological because medical training instills this culture, and when deontological actions are violated, the idea of medical negligence comes up. This culture makes medical officers do good to patients, enhancing the bond between a patient and a doctor. Deontological idealists (such as medical officers) are directed to the utilitarian concept by politicians, hospital managers, and other people in the public health career (utilitarian idealists). From a utilitarian point of view, health care system supplies, time, vigor, and funds are subject to limitations and are to be suitably adapted to attain the highest health care levels for the greater community. These are carried out with given guidelines and rules (Mandal et al., 2016).

While being philanthropic, a few inconveniences (iatrogenic) are tolerable by utilitarian idealists. As an illustration, a few instances of paralytic polio caused by bad vaccines after administering polio vaccination orally. From a deontological point of view, utilitarians make sweeping assumptions on the protocols whereas there could be uncommon cases where the rules are exempted. If actions deviate from the rules, it can be partly responsible for medical carelessness to utilitarians. Equivalent disagreements are commonplace in today’s health care systems. In the same vein, the engagement of third-party payment methods (medical insurance) influences the relationship between doctors and patients. Long-established moral investigative studies (Greene’s dual-process model) disclosed that both utilitarian and deontological tendencies are mutually restricted while recent research use the process dissociation moral method disclosed that a tendency towards a concept can happen because of the lack of tendency to a different one.  The studies also revealed that deontological tendencies are related to religion, empathy, and perspectives, whereas moral considerations and declines in the mental load are related to utilitarian tendencies (Mandal et al., 2016).

Part 5: Conclusion

This paper examined the ethical argument, explanation and defense, and objection and response of assisted dying. A patient should be given the right to decide whether to undergo assisted death. Everyone should be allowed to die in a respectful manner. It is compassionate to stop senseless suffering to end grief and misery. Both utilitarian and deontological points of view have their significance in medical ethics. In the present case, we see utilitarian viewpoints countering the deontological points of view and therefore a majority of the moral and ethical crisis. Both theories are viable and should not be dismissed. Instead, medical practitioners should balance these two points of view to incorporate more justice and harmony to medical practice.         

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