Euthanasia: Kantianism vs Utilitarianism Sample Essay

The deliberate act of stoping another’s life. given his or her consent. is officially referred to as mercy killing. At present. mercy killing is one of the most controversial social-ethical issues that we face. in that it deals with a sensitive topic affair where there is much uncertainness as to what place one ought to take. Intentionally killing another individual is presumed by most rational people as a cardinal immorality act. However. when that individual gives his or her consent to make so. this seems to give rise to an exceeding instance. This can be illustrated in the most common instance of mercy killing. where the individual who is willing to decease suffers from an unwellness that causes great hurting. and will ensue in his or her death in the not-so-distant hereafter.

In this instance. killing the individual would look to be the most humanist and sensible thing to make. whereas maintaining the individual alive would be kindred to anguish ; which is besides presumed to be a cardinal immorality act. But euthanasia. in kernel. is slaying. and this might take one to inquire whether there can of all time be an exclusion to slay? And if one were to do an exclusion in this instance. what would so forestall us from doing exclusions in other instances? In the worst instance scenario. would this non go forth an gap for inhuman slayings to kill people without their consent. and do false claims that they did hold their consent?

There are a assortment of places. based on the legion ethical theories that have been developed. that one can take in order to decide the issue of mercy killing ; but the places I will be looking at in peculiar. are the places based on John Stuart Mill’s ‘Utilitarianism’ ethical theory. and Immanuel Kant’s ‘Categorical Imperative’ ethical theory. Harmonizing to Utilitarianism. mercy killing can be morally justified. whereas harmonizing to Kantianism. mercy killing is non morally justifiable ; but I will reason that neither place provides an equal declaration to the issue. due to the important defects that are built-in in the logical thinking that led to their peculiar places.

Harmonizing to Utilitarianism. moralss is chiefly an empirical scientific discipline ; basically connoting that the moral criterion must be based on human experiences. and non abstract rules that are mostly impractical. Hence. based on an apprehension of human experience Utilitarianism proposes that the ultimate terminal of every human action is merely pleasure. and the absence of hurting. This cardinal thought so forms the footing for Utilitarianism’s Greatest Happiness Principle which states. “actions are right in proportion as they tend to advance felicity. incorrect as they tend to bring forth the contrary of felicity. By felicity is intended pleasance. and the absence of hurting ; by sadness. hurting. and the want of pleasure” ( Mill. 7 ) . Besides. Utilitarianism asserts that actions are judged as moral entirely based on their effects. and non on their motivations. So. if a individual acts out of good purposes. but does non bring forth good consequences. so his action does non measure up as a moral action. Finally. Utilitarianism asserts that an action is good merely if it promotes the greatest felicity for the greatest sum of people. Therefore. an action that somewhat increases your ain pleasance. but in bend. dramatically decreases the pleasance of other. harmonizing to Utilitarianism is non moral action.

Therefore. in the context of the instance mentioned in the debut. the Utilitarian place on mercy killing would travel something as follows: With regard to the person who is willing to decease. he/she would merely be happiest dead. and unhappy alive. With regard to the people who care for the person. they would be happy that he/she is alive. but unhappy at the same clip because he/she is in great hurting ; or if the single underwent mercy killing. happy because he/she is no longer in hurting. but unhappy because he/she is dead. So. in using the Utilitarian rule to this instance. the greatest felicity for the greatest sum of people occurs when the individual is dead. The ground being that the people who care for the individual are both happy and unhappy regardless of whether the individual is dead or alive. but the individual will merely be happy if he/she is dead. Therefore. since euthanasia meets the moral criterions set by Utilitarianism. it would back up the act of mercy killing as a morally sound action.

Unlike Utilitarianism nevertheless. Kantianism states that moralss is a strictly a priori subject. therefore. independent of experience. and that ethical regulations can merely be found through pure ground. Besides contrary to Utilitarianism. Kantianism asserts that the moral worth of an action should be judged on its motivation and the action itself. and non on its effects. Based on these thoughts. Kantianism propose that an action is good merely if it performed out a ‘good will’ ; which is the lone thing that is good. in and of itself. To move out of a ‘good will’ . one must move in conformity with a categorical jussive mood. Harmonizing to Kant there is merely one categorical jussive mood. which is to “act merely on that axiom in which you can at the same clip will that it should go a cosmopolitan law” ( Kant. 528 ) ; and can besides be formulated as “act in such a manner that you ever treat humanity. whether in your ain individual or in the individual of any other. ne’er merely as agencies. but ever at the same clip as an end” ( Kant. 532 ) .

Basically. the categorical imperative provinces that your actions must non ensue in a practical contradiction. which can be determined by gestating all other people executing the same act. To exemplify. if I were to do a promise with no purposes of maintaining it. and I imagine all other people making the same. so really thought of a promise would discontinue to hold significance. and therefore. my action would give rise to a practical contradiction. and accordingly. be immoral. Finally. the categorical jussive mood is an unconditioned ought. which means that an action must be performed entirely out of responsibility to the categorical jussive mood. without any subterranean motivation. in order for it to be a moral action.

Therefore. with respect to euthanasia. Kantians would reject the act of mercy killing as a morally good action based on their logical thinking that an action is good merely if it acts in conformity with a categorical jussive mood. Taking the categorical jussive mood in footings of being able to move in ways that can. without contradiction. go a cosmopolitan jurisprudence. if one were to universalise killing another individual – which is the cardinal act in euthanasia – this would ensue in a practical contradiction. That practical contradiction being if everyone were to kill one another. so there would be no people left in this universe. and as a effect. the really thought of slaying would lose its significance. Besides. if one were to explicate the categorical jussive mood in footings of handling others ( including oneself ) as terminals instead than agencies. mercy killing would go against the categorical jussive mood. in that the individual is treated as a agency by killing himself. to make the terminal end of extinguishing the hurting. Therefore. since mercy killing does non run into the moral criterions set out by Kantianism. it would non back up the act of mercy killing as a morally sound action.

However. as I stated in my thesis. I believe that Utilitarianism. and Kantianism do non supply an equal declaration to the issue of mercy killing. because of the important defects in their logical thinking. With Utilitarianism. the important defect in their place lies in the fact that it is built on the false premise that the effects of actions can be predicted. when in actuality they can non. For illustration. it is possible that the individual. who underwent mercy killing because of the hurting he/she suffered. could’ve been misdiagnosed and to the full recovered shortly after. Besides. inspired by his/her new life. the single went on to organize a charity that raised money for research in hurting intervention. thereby increasing the felicity for a great many. Therefore. under the useful system. maintaining the individual alive in this scenario would hold been the morally justified act. whereas killing the individual would non hold been.

With Kantianism. the important defect in their place lies in the fact that they make an absolute. changeless statement – do non slay – without any consideration for the context in which slaying takes topographic point. It is unreasonable. and surrounding on foolish. to claim to adequately decide particular instances of slaying such as mercy killing through a simple. general statement without taking into consideration its context. Though it is so sensible that intentionally killing another for the interest of harming them is an immoral act. in mercy killing. a individual is killed by another merely by their ain consent. and for the most portion. with a good motivation. When a individual is enduring enormously and is most likely traveling to decease anyways. it does non at all seem unreasonable to kill him. In fact. killing the individual would look to be the most humanist act one can execute. and in non killing the individual. and maintaining him/her alive in such a province of hurting and torment. would be like an indirect signifier of anguish ; which in Kantianism is non a moral act.

Therefore. for these grounds. the places of Utilitarianism and Kantianism on mercy killing are unequal in deciding the issue of mercy killing. and mercy killing still remains as a important social-ethical job in our modern-day society.

Plants Cited

Mill. J. S. ( 1984 ) . Excerpts from Utilitarianism. On Liberty and Considerations on Representative Government. 1. 4-42. London: Dent.

Kant. I. ( 1956 ) . Excerpts from Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals. trans. H. J. Paton. 61-62. 64-67. 74. 80-92. 95-107. London: Unwin Hyman. Reprinted in E. Sober. Core Question in Doctrine: A Text with Readings. 520-540. Upper Saddle River: Prentice Hall. 2001.


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