Analysis Of An Author's Argument For Active Euthanasia

1011 words - 4 pages

An Author's Argument for Active Euthanasia"Active and Passive Euthanasia," by James Rachels, takes on the argument of using euthanasia to kill the suffering patient, or, instead, letting the patient willingly die on his own. The type of argument presented is a position because James Rachels takes on the position as an advocate of active euthanasia. His claim is explicitly stated because he argues that "killing is not in itself any worse than letting die...active euthanasia is not any worse than passive euthanasia" (Rachels 526, paragraph 16). The author's tone is intelligent, but also bitter. In the 16th paragraph of the reading, he blatantly states that "it is not exactly correct to say that in passive euthanasia the doctor does nothing, for he does do one thing...he lets the patient die" (Rachels 526). By immediately accusing the doctor of letting the patient die in passive euthanasia, he has set a bitter tone. The author's persona is also presented as an individual who is arguing with doctors that active euthanasia is more humane than passive euthanasia. The intended audience for this selection is educated individuals with no bias toward religion, since the Catholic Church argues against active euthanasia.The author uses case examples as evidence to support his claim because he presents the reader with different types of cases. In the first case, he uses the example of a patient who is dying of terminal cancer to begin his argument. The patient is suffering terribly, and can no longer be helped through treatment. He is expected to die very soon, even if the patient chooses to continue his treatment, but he does not want to go on living for those days because the pain is unbearable, so he then asks the doctor to put an end to it. James Rachels supposes, however, that the doctor follows the American Medical Association's doctrine and withholds treatment because the patient is going to die anyway. He argues that the doctor allows the patient to die, even though the patient may suffer a lot more "than he would if more direct action were taken and a lethal injection given" (Rachels 522, paragraph 3). The author also argues that passive euthanasia can be "relatively slow and painful, whereas being given a lethal injection is relatively quick and painless" (522, paragraph 4).The author believes that the conventional doctrine leads to decisions concerning life and death made on irrelevant grounds. He uses the case of the infants with Down's syndrome as another example. Rachels argues that, "It is the Down's syndrome, and not the intestines, that is the issue. The matter should be decided...on that basis, and not be allowed to depend on the essentially irrelevant question of whether the intestinal tract is blocked" (523, paragraph 7). Rachels says that it does not matter if the doctor were to kill the patient or let the patient die because the intended result is the same for both situations.The author also uses two cases where...

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