Respond to the following prompt:
Your term paper is going to be an exercise in applied ethics. You are going to be examining two recent cases involving euthanasia and explaining how various positions we have covered apply to these cases. After examining what various perspectives would say about what to do in these cases, you will be developing and defending your own views.
The first case you are going to look at involves Terri Schiavo. Schiavo was in a persistent vegetative state, and, after a long legal battle, her feeding tube was removed, which led to her death. I have uploaded a short article on our site from the New England Journal of Medicine that explains that details of the Schiavo case. You will want to read this short article in order to obtain more information about this case you will be assessing.
The second case you are going to look at involves Lillian Boyes and her doctor Nigel Cox. Boyes was suffering in severe pain, and she asked her doctor, Cox, to inject her with a drug to kill her, which he did. I have provided a link to a short article on our site from The Independent that explains the details of the Boyes case. You will want to read this short article in order to obtain more information about this case you will be assessing.
For the Schiavo case, I want you to address these questions in your paper:
a. Provide a description of the Schiavo case and the details of it to your reader. Use the article I provided from the New England Journal of Medicine to draw your information (I don’t want you using other sources either – use the New England Journal of Medicine I have given you to provide the relevant information on this case).
b. In the Week Seven Lecture, I distinguished between five types of euthanasia. Of these five types of euthanasia, which was involved in the case with Terri Schiavo? Be sure to provide some reasons for why you think that this was the type of euthanasia involved.
c. In the Week One Lecture, I discussed a utilitarian theory of ethics. Briefly explain what is involved with a utilitarian theory of ethics. What do you think a utilitarian would say in terms of the ethical permissibility of removing Schiavo’s feeding tube? Be sure to explain your reasons for why you think that a utilitarian would render this judgment.
d. In the Week Eight Lecture, I discussed the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church on euthanasia. What do you think the Roman Catholic Church would say in terms of the ethical permissibility of removing Schiavo’s feeding tube? Be sure to explain your reasons for why you think the Church would render this judgment. Also explain, briefly, the natural law approach to ethics that we covered in Week One and how it undergirds the Church’s position on how to treat Schiavo.
e. What are your views about what should have been done in the Schiavo case? Do you think that her feeding tube should have been removed? Why or why not? And if your view is different from either what you believe a utilitarian would say, or the Church, be sure to explain how you would respond to them and the reasons they offer in favor of their position.
For the Boyes case, I want you to address these questions in your paper:
a. Provide a description of the Boyes case to your reader and some of the details of it.
Use the article from The Independent to draw the information that you explain to your reader.
b. In the Week Seven lecture, I distinguished between five types of euthanasia. Of these five types of euthanasia, which was involved in the case with Lillian Boyes? Be sure to offer your reasons for why you categorize this case the way you do.
c. In the Week Seven lecture, I discussed James Rachels’ defense of The Argument from Mercy. Explain briefly how Rachels develops The Argument from Mercy and how he would use it to reason in the case with Boyes.
d. In the Week Eight lecture, I discussed J. Gay Williams Argument from Nature. Explain Williams Argument from Nature and how he would use it to reason in the case with Boyes.
e. In the Week Eight lecture, I explained why Daniel Callahan thinks that killing someone is worse than letting them die. Explain why Callahan thinks that killing someone is worse than letting them die, and, in turn, how Callahan would use this distinction to reason about what should be done in the case with Boyes.
f. What are your views about what should have been done in the Boyes case? Do you think that her doctor should have injected her with a drug to bring about her death? Why or why not? And if your view is different from what either Rachels would say, or Williams or Callahan, then be sure to explain how you would respond to them and the reasons that they offer in favor of their position.
After looking at the Schiavo and Boyes cases, I want you to end your paper by doing this:
incorporate some of the arguments for and against euthanasia that we covered in Weeks 7 and 8 into the opinion that you develop.
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The Schiavo case began in 1990, when cardiac arrest—brought about by an eating disorder—led to “severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy” (NEJM, 1630), a catastrophic loss of oxygen supply to Terri Schiavo’s brain. Brain scans indicated “no functional activity of the cerebral cortex” (NEJM, 1630) and neurological examinations pointed to a persistent vegetative state. Of great importance to how the case would unfold, patients in persistent vegetative states can display—as Ms. Schiavo did—periodic wakefulness and some autonomous and reflexive responses, but, crucially, without any underlying or driving emotion, will, cognition, or conscious awareness. This also meant that Ms. Schiavo did not suffer, because, in the absence of cortical activity and thus conscious awareness, she was unable to suffer in a way dependent on having conscious awareness. And, according to Dr. Quinn, in cases of persistent vegetative state caused by hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy, only “a few” (NEJM, 1630) patients ever regained minimal cognitive function within three months of diagnosis, and none of these cases matched Ms. Schiavo’s circumstances in objective severity and duration....
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