Autonomy Vs. Voluntary Euthanasia

1399 Words6 Pages
The main purpose of this chapter is to establish the definitions that surround the issue of euthanasia and to establish the main dilemma experienced by government. This is the dilemma between upholding the value of individual autonomy and protecting vulnerable citizens. The debate on the issue of Euthanasia, and more specifically assisted dying is highly contested and therefore this project sets out a table of definitions for the purpose of clarity. Although these definitions vary depending on source and are regularly criticised for either being too narrow or too wide, I will base my project on the definitions found below. Voluntary Euthanasia The patient has made the active request to end their life (Singer, 1993, p176) Non Voluntary Euthanasia…show more content…
Placing autonomy as a central value contrast with alternative frameworks a liberal society must maintain, such as “an ethic of care (and) utilitarianism” (Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy, 2003). In essence this debate can be labelled as the debate between ‘autonomy and paternalism’ (Deaking, 2010, p141). Autonomy is regarded as the “fundamental right of individuals to shape their own future through voluntary action” (Van Boom et al, 2010, p1). It is expected that a liberal society protects the “democratic rights and liberties” of individuals, as this will avoid undesired authoritarian approaches of governance (Benn, 2009). As the UK is a state that operates under democratic rule, this entails the protection of individual rights and liberties. The importance of rights and liberties are highlighted by the 1998 Human Rights Act, and Article 8 sets out the right to private life and family (Human Rights Act, 1998). Cases such as Tony Nicklinson, which will be further explained in Chapter Three, have challenged the current legal system and argued that they have a justified right under the Human Rights Act to private life, and as an extension of this, a right to request assisted…show more content…
The literature available comes in journals, books and reports. However, due to its emotional nature, it is difficult to find sources that are impartial to the debate; which means most of the literature is either for or against. Luis Kutner’s (1969) papers published in academic journals give a historical and empirical account of the debates surrounding euthanasia, focusing on the legalities of the subject with grounding in the work of Thomas Hobbes. Clare Andre and Manuel Velazquez (1987) offer a more moral argument based on the idea that all individuals have the moral right to make their own choices and the work of David Benatar (2010), a professor of philosophy, considers whether we should even have a legal right to die concluding that “it is a violation of a person’s right to liberty to force them to endure a life that they have reasonably judged to be unacceptable” (p3). Once again, bringing attention to the main argument of individual autonomy, rights and liberties my research question considers the general discussion on the issue, albeit focusing on the UK. Most of the literature I have used in my research draws on a comparison across a number of countries, even continents to asses the arguments for and against. The difficulties of pinpointing uncontested definitions were apparent in all the literature, however online resources such as Campaign in Dignity in
Open Document