Question

In 1500-2000 words, choose from among the ethical theories discussed in class, and apply one or more theories to the issue of voluntary euthanasia.

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This paper considers the ethical question of whether the outcomes of the Boyes and Schiavo cases of voluntary euthanasia—and the acts which led to those outcomes—were the right, moral acts and outcomes from the standpoint of two ethical approaches: consequentialist, utilitarian ethics and deontological ethics. The essential issues are as follows: First, there is the broadest category of the morality of euthanasia, i.e. the morality of ending life in order to end suffering, where ‘suffering’ itself may refer to a variety of conditions. Then there are the interrelated issues of the moral status of the person(s) who carry out the procedure involved, the decision-makers and interested parties involved, and the potential societal consequences of euthanasia as an established practice. And, finally, there are the perennial issues of the sanctity of life regardless of the condition of the life in question.
This paper’s thesis is that, relative to deontology, utilitarianism is the best way to approach the question of the morality of the acts of euthanasian in the Boyes and Schiavo cases. The primary reason presented in support of this thesis is that utilitarianism takes into account the interests of people, and does so—at least in theory—in a way that ostensibly...

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