Passive Euthanasia Rhetorical Analysis

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Euthanasia is a complicated and controversial issue in today’s society. Such controversies can be politically, medically, or morally related. It is a large concern that questions and challenges our thoughts and emotions. Euthanasia is defined as the act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, a person or animal suffering from an incurable, especially a painful, disease or condition. It is divided into two groups, active euthanasia and passive euthanasia. The traditional doctrine establishes that there is a moral difference between the two, thus allowing passive euthanasia while forbidding active euthanasia. However, in “Active and Passive Euthanasia”, philosopher James Rachels, argues…show more content…
However, although Rachel’s argument is influential, what makes it weak is that the evil intentions of Smith and Jones do not directly correlate to the two forms of euthanasia. In the Smith and Jones case, they both intended harm to their cousin to gain a large inheritance. For this reason, because they were both morally wrong, there is no moral difference between the cases. Also, just because one fails to prevent the death of someone else does not mean that they have the same moral intention an active killer. For example, failure to prevent someone’s death could be due to inaccessibility or ignorance. In addition, the success of Rachels’ argument in the Smith and Jones case partly depends on readers paying no attention to the intentions of the two men. If intentions were to matter in right and wrong, then Smith would be a worse person than Jones, because Smith had committed a physical act of…show more content…
Although it is a valid argument pattern where the true premises would mean a true conclusion, the weakness in this argument lays in premise 3. If something were to be in itself morally worse than something else, it can be said that it is intrinsically morally worse (Lewis). Thus being said, if a characteristic of something is intrinsic to it, then that property occurs in all occurrences of that thing. So, killing in itself is always morally worse if killing is in itself is morally worse than letting one to die (Lewis). To fix this ambiguous premise, Rachels can change it to include the issue of an intrinsic characteristic. It would be altered to, “If the difference between killing and letting die was that killing in itself was always morally worse than letting die, then Jones’ behaviour would be less reprehensible than Smith’s. However, if this premise were to change, then so would premise 4 and 5. They would be altered to, “Therefore, active killing and letting die is not always morally different.” and “Therefore, active euthanasia is not always morally worse than passive euthanasia.” Even with these changes, Rachels’ argument may still be deemed weak because although there are situations in which active euthanasia may not be morally worse than passive euthanasia, it does not specify which situations are not morally worse. In conclusion, his argument shows the
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