Euthanasia Essays

Euthanasia Essays-83
that the death of a human being, A, is an instance of euthanasia if and only if (1) A's death is intended by at least one other human being, B, where B is either the cause of death or a causally relevant feature of the event resulting in death (whether by action or by omission); (2) there is either sufficient current evidence for B to believe that A is acutely suffering or irreversibly comatose, or there is sufficient current evidence related to A's present condition such that one or more known causal laws supports B's belief that A will be in a condition of acute suffering or irreversible comatoseness; (3) (a) B's primary reason for intending A's death is cessation of A's (actual or predicted future) suffering or irreversible comatoseness, where B does not intend A's death for a different primary reason, though there may be other relevant reasons, and (b) there is sufficient current evidence for either A or B that causal means to A's death will not produce any more suffering than would be produced for A if B were not to intervene; (4) the causal means to the event of A's death are chosen by A or B to be as painless as possible, unless either A or B has an overriding reason for a more painful causal means, where the reason for choosing the latter causal means does not conflict with the evidence in 3b; (5) A is a nonfetal organism.Person A committed an act of euthanasia if and only if (1) A killed B or let her die; (2) A intended to kill B; (3) the intention specified in (2) was at least partial cause of the action specified in (1); (4) the causal journey from the intention specified in (2) to the action specified in (1) is more or less in accordance with A's plan of action; (5) A's killing of B is a voluntary action; (6) the motive for the action specified in (1), the motive standing behind the intention specified in (2), is the good of the person killed.Non-voluntary euthanasia is conducted when the consent of the patient is unavailable.

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The first apparent usage of the term "euthanasia" belongs to the historian Suetonius, who described how the Emperor Augustus, "dying quickly and without suffering in the arms of his wife, Livia, experienced the 'euthanasia' he had wished for." The word "euthanasia" was first used in a medical context by Francis Bacon in the 17th century, to refer to an easy, painless, happy death, during which it was a "physician's responsibility to alleviate the 'physical sufferings' of the body." Bacon referred to an "outward euthanasia"—the term "outward" he used to distinguish from a spiritual concept—the euthanasia "which regards the preparation of the soul." However, it is argued that this approach fails to properly define euthanasia, as it leaves open a number of possible actions which would meet the requirements of the definition, but would not be seen as euthanasia.

In particular, these include situations where a person kills another, painlessly, but for no reason beyond that of personal gain; or accidental deaths that are quick and painless, but not intentional.

In his work, Euthanasia medica, he chose this ancient Greek word and, in doing so, distinguished between euthanasia interior, the preparation of the soul for death, and euthanasia exterior, which was intended to make the end of life easier and painless, in exceptional circumstances by shortening life.

That the ancient meaning of an easy death came to the fore again in the early modern period can be seen from its definition in the 18th century Zedlers Universallexikon: The concept of euthanasia in the sense of alleviating the process of death goes back to the medical historian, Karl Friedrich Heinrich Marx, who drew on Bacon's philosophical ideas.

Wreen also considered a seventh requirement: "(7) The good specified in (6) is, or at least includes, the avoidance of evil", although as Wreen noted in the paper, he was not convinced that the restriction was required.

In discussing his definition, Wreen noted the difficulty of justifying euthanasia when faced with the notion of the subject's "right to life".

In some countries - such as Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan - support for active euthanasia is almost non-existent.

Like other terms borrowed from history, "euthanasia" has had different meanings depending on usage.

Active euthanasia entails the use of lethal substances or forces (such as administering a lethal injection), and is the more controversial.

While some authors consider these terms to be misleading and unhelpful, they are nonetheless commonly used.

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