Resolved: Voluntary Euthanasia is Morally Justified
Debate Rounds (4)
I am challenging That1User for Round 2 of Lannan13's February Beginner's Tournament. The resolution holds clear: Pro shall argue that voluntary euthanasia is indeed morally justified, and Con shall argue that it is not.
The burden of proof is equally shared between both debaters.
Voluntary Euthanasia - the act or practice of killing or permitting the death of people with incurable diseases or injuries in a relatively painless way for reasons of mercy with the person's consent.
Morally Justified - to provide or be a good reason for (something); to prove or show (something) to be just, right, or reasonable.
Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Cases
Round 3: Rebuttal of Cases
Round 4: Rebuttal of Rebuttals
1. No forfeits
2. No trolling or semantics
3. Second round is arguments only
4. Maintain a civil atmosphere
5. Breaking any of these rules results in a loss
Thanks to That1User and good luck!
All right, let's get to it!
C1. Life is Valuable
SC1. Sanctity of Life
Every human being has worth, regardless of sex, race, identity, physical capabilities, future potential, and personal characteristics. Our inherent value does not depend on anything else. It does not depend on whether we are having a good life or whether others think of us a certain way. Human life ought to be preserved because it contains immanent goodness that cannot be replaced by any other thing. Although one's value does not change whether one's motives are good or bad, innocent lives such as that of sick or injured patients do not deserve to be taken based on their measurement of their life alone.
Human life is not a means to an end, but a basic good in itself. Putting life in instrumental terms is dehumanizing to the value people really hold. Immanuel Kant taught that humans are an end in themselves and not a means to something else, such the satisfaction of others or one's personal achievements. The fact that we exist gives us value regardless of any disability we have. One cannot increase or decrease their own value to make it different from someone else's; it remains the same for one's entire life. Because of this intrinsic worth, the deliberate taking of a life other than self-defense or the legitimate defense of others is not justified.
SC2. Devaluation of Life
Practiced euthanasia indicates that the lives of some are not worth living. It presents the picture that it is better to be dead than sick or disabled, and thus creates the myth that life must not have an inherent worth. This downgrades the status of the disabled and forces society to look down upon those with less ability. The devaluation of life is erroneous because it displays the image that these sick patients are less worthy of living. Societies have come to view the disabled as inferior and a burden on everyone else. Proponents of eugenics have gone as far as saying that the weak should be eliminated. It is unjustifiable to distort the value of life based on the limitations that some people may have, and is simply unethical.
Another problem with morally justifying euthanasia is that it is impossible to know whether death is the best interest of the patient or whether the patient is in the best position to properly assess him or herself. Is it ethical to place a risky and very hard choice on the person who may not be the best at deciding it under extensive pain and pressure from others? One cannot properly assess themselves psychologically, especially when it comes to the serious issue of dying.
Euthanasia is unnecessary because there are many scenarios in which it may done out of a wrong decision. Suppose that life for the patient may not be worth living now but well worth it in the future. Suppose the patient is depressed and thinks life is much worse than it actually is, or that the patient is confused and unable to make sensible judgments. There are also possibilities that the doctor's diagnosis could be wrong or that there are non-fatal options available that the doctor is unaware of. Eugenics is not necessary because neither the doctor or patient, especially the patient, are completely knowledgeable of the situation at hand. Had the patient simply been in a tough passing phase of the disease but felt better afterwards, would euthanasia had been justified earlier? No, and since everyone has such limited knowledge of other means, their mistakes, or of the future, it is safe to say that euthanasia is never justified at all. When one cannot know, the benefit of the doubt should go towards preserving life.
C3. Euthanasia and Suicide
Some more ethical issues that exist with euthanasia is how it is an extension of suicide. Our society largely condemns suicide baiting and believes that choosing to kill oneself regardless of their circumstances is wrong. Organizations such as the Suicide Prevention Center are dedicated to help people who are severely depressed or in pain. Family and friends become devastated following the self-inflicted death of someone they know and love. If strong evidence shows that someone played a major role in the suicide of someone else, that person may be prosecuted by the law. California Penal Code 401 allows prosecution of people who "encourage or advise suicide". 
The important distinction that should be made here is that the only difference between assisted suicide and euthanasia is that the person who is helping with the death is a physician. Ethics should not be changed based on someone's profession or medical experience, because in both scenarios an innocent life is taken. The role of doctors and physicians is to save life and make life better for others, which means that assisting in death is a direct contradiction of the duty of these medical workers. Suicide baiting is hardly different from family members encouraging a loved one to be euthanized. Euthanasia is not justified simply because a physician is involved, nor is it if the physician is granted legal permission to do so, because I have shown above, humans have intrinsic value that should not be stamped out simply because someone wishes that it ought to be.
...Now over to Pro!
What is moral?
Morality is defined as: a : of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior : ethical (http://www.merriam-webster.com...)
What is right and what is wrong can be described as what brings well being (right) and what brings harm (wrong)
In order to measure morality, I propose a system known as the moral triangle, which is compromised of three corners, the intent of an action, (the intention of bringing well being), the consquences of an action, (whether an action results in the well being or harm of others) and the rights/values of an action (whether someone violates someone's human's rights by an action, or advances their human rights.) (Source of the moral triangle: https://www.youtube.com...) Now to apply the moral triangle to Voluntary Euthanasia.
The intent of voluntary euthanasia is to extend mercy by ending one's physical suffering. Mercy is a value in our society, for it decreases suffering, which adds to the well being of someone. Since the intent is merciful, and the intention of the physician is to increase the well being of someone else, the intent is morally good.
The ultimate consquence of voluntary euthanasia is ending one's suffering by terminating a person. According to utilitarianism, suffering is the greatest evil, and well being is the greatest good, and actions that result in suffering are morally wrong, while actions that result in the well being of others are morally right. Since euthanasia results in the end of suffering and the end of harm, euthanasia is good according to utilatarianism, as well as other consquentalist theories of morality. Not only does voluntary euthanasia eliminate suffering, but it frees up space and resources for other patients, those who have hope to recover. Because of these positive consquences, the consquences are morally right.
While voluntary euthanasia results in the death of a paitent, this is not a violation of the human right to live, because a person gave consent to dying in order to end their suffering. It also advances the paitent's right to die. Our society values personal freedom, and Voluntary Euthanasia advances people's personal freedom by advancing the right to die, one's right to decide their deaths. Because of these reasons, human rights are not violated, but rather advanced, thus Voluntary Euthanasia is morally right under the Rights/Values section of the moral triangle.
In conclusion, the intent of Voluntary Euthanasia, which is to extend mercy by eliminating suffering, is morally right, the consquences of Voluntary Euthanasia, which is eliminating suffering and increasing well being by freeing up medical space and resources, is morally right because it decreases harm and increases well being, and the rights/values of Voluntary Euthanasia is morally right because it does not violate any rights, but rather advances human rights. Therefore, according to the Moral Triangle, Voluntary Euthanasia is morally right overall.
Pro makes the assumption that suffering is essentially bad, but it really isn't. Everyone suffers, and all people go through trials and obstacles that they must overcome. When we face these trials, the one thing we are cautioned not to do is to quit and give up. Euthanasia is comparable to quitting, because the patient is admitting that they are giving up on life and refuse to face the necessary obstacles that are present.
Suffering contains value because it provides the opportunity to grow in wisdom, character, and compassion. Many of the talents and strengths that humans have developed have been brought about because of endurance and suffering in order to reach that spot. One who is unfit to climb a mountain must endure suffering to become fit for the challenge. Through resistance people's best characteristics are brought out, which enable growth and a peak of personality. When people know what it is like to suffer, they become more compassionate for people who are suffering because they understand their situation better. The ability to endure pain helps people in so many ways that to give up entirely seems unsound with the blessing of endurance.
We should relieve suffering when we can, and when we can't we should be with those to help them bear their pain and burdens. We should never deal with the problem of suffering by eliminating those who suffer. One's intrinsic worth is the same before and after bearing pain, and the presence of it at all cannot change the value of each person. Furthermore, it is impossible for a physician to determine whether a patient is really suffering as much as they suppose, so giving physicians that kind of power is dangerous.
My opponent argues that human rights are not violated if one's consent is involved. However, this argument doesn't hold up because consent is not enough to justify one's elimination. Self-consent is what justifies self-afflicted death in the minds of suicidal people, but because one offers their consent does not mean they are right about their decision. People who are really suffering are not under the right circumstances to assess themselves properly, especially when handed the decision of their own death. If my consent to me being euthanized was influenced by pressure from family and friends, then my decision wouldn't have been entirely influenced by my own desires, but by the desires of others. My consent can be influenced by so many external factors, including confusion from the pain and the immediate desire for something when the long-term consequences matter more. It is wrong to trust a patient with such a serious burden, and that patient's consent may not be of his or her best interest or for what is morally right, so the case for consent does not work.
Having a good intent does not mean that intent isn't ill-placed, wrongly determined, or unjust. If I were to harm someone else out of good intent, that doesn't necessarily mean my act upon them was justified. Mercy can be perceived both ways; euthanasia may stop one's suffering but it would disallow them from ever experiencing the joy or happiness that also comes with life and with overcoming burdens. It would also prevent one from learning and growing from his or her sufferings, and would only satisfy the loss of pain. This is not enough to justify the elimination of a human being, and to say that the intent of doing so was positive doesn't dictate what is moral or justified.
I have shown why euthanasia does not fit the moral triangle Pro has described and that voluntary euthanasia is not justified. Even if the intent were good, the two other parts of the triangle remain incomplete and incompatible with euthanasia. Suffering is necessary for human growth and consent cannot be properly trusted for such a morbid decision. Thus, the resolution is negated.
Con makes the assumption that 1) Every human being has worth. 2) Our inherent value does not depend on anything else. 3) Kantian dentological ethics is true. In fact, according to the document "The Formula of Humanity as an end to itself" from California State University, Los Angeles, by Richard Dean, humanity is not an end to itself, but rather rational beings are an end to themselves.
"One generally accepted interpretive idea is that Kant is not saying that exactly all and only members of the human species must be treated as ends in themselves. His use of the term "humanity (in German, "die Menschheit") is potentially misleading, since he also consistently says that "rational beings are ends in themselves, in virtue of their ""rational nature.""" Rationality is the key feature that distinguishes typical humans from all the other beings that we know of, so it is not too great a slip to say that human beings are ends in themselves. But Kant also thinks that God possesses a rational nature, more perfectly rational than our own, and he even thinks it could well be that there are races of rational beings living on other planets (7:332). So Kant does not mean to say that only members of our biological species can be rational or must be treated as ends in themselves. And if rational nature is what makes a being an end in herself, then being biologically human is not a sufficient condition for being an end in oneself either. Some humans "" patients in permanent vegetative states, for example "" lack even the most minimal sort of rationality. So there is a consensus that Kant means that rational beings are ends in themselves,"
This quote especially emphazizes that those who are not rational beings are not ends to themselves, and since euthanasia paitents are not rational beings (admitted by con in C2 Interests "euthanasia paitents cannot assess themselves properly" (paraphrase) ), euthanasia paitents are not ends to themselves, thus Kantian ethics does not apply to euthanasia paitents.
" Next, I turned to look at all the acts of oppression that make people suffer under the sun. Look at the tears of those who suffer! No one can comfort them. Their oppressors have all the power. No one can comfort those who suffer. 2 I congratulate the dead, who have already died, rather than the living, who still have to carry on. 3 But the person who hasn't been born yet is better off than both of them. He hasn’t seen the evil that is done under the sun." -Ecclesiastes 4:1-3
According to the book of Eccelesiastes, it is better to be dead than to be living, and it is better to not have been born rather than to be living. According to PewResearchCenter, there are about 2.18 billion Christians on planet Earth, and for Christians, the Bible is the primary source of truth. (http://www.pewforum.org...)
Furthermore, euthanasia does not downgrade the value of life, as it gives the option for someone to choose to die. In fact, it could be argued that not giving someone the choice to die devalues the value of the paitent's life, because they cannot make a decision on their own life.
"Another problem with morally justifying euthanasia is that it is impossible to know whether death is the best interest of the patient or whether the patient is in the best position to properly assess him or herself. Is it ethical to place a risky and very hard choice on the person who may not be the best at deciding it under extensive pain and pressure from others? One cannot properly assess themselves psychologically, especially when it comes to the serious issue of dying."
According to Kantian dentological ethics, if a person is a rational being then they are an end to themselves, and since euthanasia paitents cannot assess him or herself properly, they are not rational beings, and thus are not ends to themselves. If that interpreation of Kantian dentological ethics is wrong, however, and all humans are intrinsically rational, then a euthanasia paitent's decision or will to die ought to be followed, for if a euthanasia paitent is rational, it "requires that their own reasoned motives must be equally respected." (http://en.wikipedia.org...)
In Kantian ethics, there is a concept known as the catergoical imperitive.
"As part if I wish to quench my thirst, I must drink something;"
"if I wish to acquire knowledge, I must learn."
This can be applied to euthanasia.
"If I wish to end my suffering, I must die"
In conclusion, assuming a euthanasia paitent is rational, then their decision to die must be respected, if they are not rational, however, then they do not have value according to Kantian dentological ethics.
"Euthanasia is unnecessary because there are many scenarios in which it may done out of a wrong decision. Suppose that life for the patient may not be worth living now but well worth it in the future. "
Suppose euthanasia is necessary. Euthanasia may be necessary because it may be the only way to end a paitent's suffering, and there is no benefit to the suffering because one is at the end of their life, and the suffering prevents them from doing anything that furthers the well being of others, and they are going to die. If there is no benefit to the suffering, then the suffering is meaningless, and there is more harm than good done. Euthanasia is morally justified because it gives people the option to end their suffering if there is no benefit of the suffering and no hope to get better.
"Some more ethical issues that exist with euthanasia is how it is an extension of suicide. Our society largely condemns suicide baiting and believes that choosing to kill oneself regardless of their circumstances is wrong.
Allowing voluntary euthanasia is not suicide baiting, it merely gives the option to end their suffering by terminating themselves. Not all people think that choosing to kill onself regardless of their circumstances is wrong, perhaps in most situations, but not all, as most people are divided in this issue. To some, it is more comforting that their loved one is at peace and dead rather than alive and suffering.
"The role of doctors and physicians is to save life and make life better for others, which means that assisting in death is a direct contradiction of the duty of these medical workers."
And euthanazing a paitent with their consent does make life better for the paitent, if they are in tremendous suffering, so it is not a direct contradiction of the duty of these medical workers.
" Euthanasia is not justified simply because a physician is involved, nor is it if the physician is granted legal permission to do so."
A physician is granted legal permission to voluntary euthanasia, according the ruling of Barber vs. Superior Court.
Murder is the unlawful killing of a human being, to be distinguished from those killings which society has deemed justifiable. This court deems the cessation of life support as an omission of further treatment as opposed to an affirmative act and there is no criminal liability for an omission where no legal duty is owed.
A physicians omission to continue treatment where such treatment has proven ineffective, regardless of the physician's knowledge that the patient would die, is not a failure to perform a legal duty and therefore the physician cannot be held liable for murder. (http://www.casebriefs.com...)
VE is also legal in: Nl, Be, and Lu. Switz., Germ., Alb., Colo., Ja.
In conclusion, if paitents are not rational beings, then they are not ends to themselves, as con states. If they are rational beings, however, then they ought to have the option of euthanasia, assuming that Kantian ethics are true. Either way, the res. is affirmed.
R1. Sanctity of Life
Pro accuses me of making assumptions, yet makes his own, which is that "if Kant said it, he must be right". Pro doesn't use any logic to provide a base for his assertion that euthanasia patients are irrational beings, but just quotes someone else's interpretation of Kant and implies that this must be true. The only notable contention worthy of discussion is the statement that I have conceded to patients being irrational, when I really haven't. Pro quotes me out of context: "euthanasia patients cannot assess themselves properly", but doesn't realize that I also said, "One cannot assess themselves properly", meaning that I meant no has the right to make the decision that their life is not worth living, not that those in pain are irrational.
The definition of "rational" is: "agreeable to reason; reasonable; sensible".
The question at hand is not what constitutes rationality, but what constitutes worth. According to this definition, a person who is asleep or in a coma is not rational, because he or she is not sensible. Sensibility does not apply when one is not aware. In order to be reasonable, one must have the ability to reason, which does not exist when sleeping, unconscious, or unaware. If someone is in this state, it does not mean that he or she has no worth. What makes them unique is still existent regardless of their state of mind. They are alive and are a member of the human species, so their value is the same as anyone else's. Thus, we see that the notion that worth is dictated by rationality is illogical. My opponent's argument for such an arbitrary claim has not been made, besides quoting a professor he asserts is right.
R2. Devaluation of Life
Pro cites the Bible (which is iffy, but I'll indulge) as the base for his argument that it is better to be dead than alive when it comes to suffering. The writer of Ecclesiastes actually seems to be expressing his feelings of envy towards those who have not experienced sin (those "which have not been"), not advice. Since the Bible was written by God's alleged followers, not himself, there isn't much of a reason to believe that the Bible is 100% directly from him.
Pro's argument here is pretty weak: he is stating that the value of life is factored whether someone can make decisions or not. This is not true at all. If I am allowed choice A but not choice B, is my life worth less than those who can choose both A and B? Of course not. This is a ridiculous assertion.
Allowing a patient to die shows that life must not have as much inherent worth for those who are disabled. Furthermore, others tend to look down upon such patients which creates a downgrading image of the disabled, as if life means less to them. This misconception is unnecessary and invalid, and hurts the public view towards life.
R3. Best interests
Human beings are an end to themselves, regardless of whether one can properly reason. If one is an end to themselves, that means that they are their own good, and it would be immoral to choose to destroy that end. If someone is their own good, they ought to uphold that good, which is their own inherent worth. As I demonstrated above, the ability to reason has nothing to do with one's worth. My original reasoning can be illustrated:
P1: All human beings are an end to themselves.
P2: This end means that humans have an inherent goodness.
P3: Self-worth is a result of inherent goodness.
P4: Extinguishing self-worth by process of elimination is morally wrong.
C1: Euthanasia is morally unjust.
Self-reasoned motives cannot be seen as equally respectable (in this case) partially because, according to Pro, euthanasia patients are irrational. If one is irrational, then their ability to reason is very limited, so they should not be trusted with making a decision concerning self-elimination, especially since such an issue is one of the most serious that can possibly be made.
The other reason for why self-motives are not equally respectable in euthanasia cases are because there is no absolute knowledge existing concerning the future of the patient. It is wrong to make decisions based on human predictions. As I put forth in the second round, there are multiple reasons why euthanasia is obviously unjust.
But Pro counters with this: "Euthanasia may be necessary because it may be the only way to end a patient's suffering". The problem with this assertion is the word may. It is unethical to make such decisions based on the rationale, "it may be the only reason, but there's no way to know for sure so we might as well eliminate the patient". What kind of reasoning is this? As moral human beings, the benefit if the doubt should go towards preserving life. If I were hunting and heard a rustling in a nearby bush, would I pull out my gun and blindly shoot? No, because there is no certainty about who are what is inside that bush, so the hunter should be absolutely sure before shooting. Since there is no way to do this in euthanasia cases, eugenics as a whole is unjust.
R4. Euthanasia and Suicide
Pro misreads my argument of the similarities between suicide baiting and euthanasia encouragement by stating that allowing euthanasia isn't suicide baiting. It isn't, but encouraging such is. There really is no big difference between family members of a euthanasia patient pressuring them to be euthanized and a friend telling someone else to go through with suicide. The latter is a legal violation deserving of prosecution, but the former is not. Clearly, this a similarity that shows how unethical euthanasia is.
The role of a physician is to preserve life, not eliminate it. Life cannot be made better because that patient does not even contain life anymore, and that patient cannot experience anything else anymore. Suffering is only one component of what they cannot perceive.
Legal ability does not constitute justice. Euthanasia cannot be adequately defined as murder in areas where it is legal (because its definition states that murder is only legitimate if it is unlawful), but it can still be seen as an unjust killing. Whether society agrees over its morality is irrelevant to its actual morality. The application of the ad populum fallacy isn't sufficient for justifying such an act. Pro seems to dodge my argument that the difference between euthanasia and suicide is the presence of a physician and creates a straw man by implying that I stated that physicians are murders, which I did not. The definition of murder disallows physicians as being constituted as such.
However, a physician act isn't justified just because it isn't murder. The physician may have simply been "doing his duty" or made a misplaced ethical decision.
I have successfully rebutted all of Pro's points and shown why they are illogical. Pro relies on quotes from other sources supporting his view but doesn't actually show why these views are logically correct or ethically sound. In sum, life is meant to be preserved (whether rational or irrational), it is wrong to devaluate life, eugenics is not in the patient's best interest, and it is too similar to suicide to be considered ethically good.
Thus, I negate the resolution of voluntary euthanasia being morally justified.
Thanks for the debate Pro and thanks to readers for reading! Vote Con.
Suffering is meaningless if one is at the end of their life, and their disease makes it impossible to continue their life before a severe bought of disease. A person cannot grow if their life is ending or they are confined to living the rest of their life under the pain of their disease. Thus, it is better to have them have the option to end their life in order to end their suffering, thus voluntary euthanasia is morally justified.
It is enough to justify one's own elimination, because one should decide their fate, one should have the freedom to do so. If one wants to end their suffering, they should have the right to do so, especially if the suffering is meaningless.
While having a good intent does not make something moral, it does make something more moral if it has ill intent.
In conclusion, I have uphled the moral triangle, and thus voluntary euthanasia is morally justified.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Philocat 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I enjoyed reading this debate - both participants were civil and made intelligent cases. However, from what I can see it was Con who made the better arguments. His main case centred around the inherent value of human life; this put Pro in an unwinable dilemma, either euthanasia patients are rational (in which cases he concedes that rational beings are inherently valuable), or they are irrational (in which case the euthanasia patient is unable to make a sensible decision). Pro could not escape this dilemma, hence he could not win the debate.
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