This house endorses euthanasia
Debate Rounds (3)
1) Euthanasia: the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease or in an irreversible coma.
2) Endorses: declare one's public approval or support of.
Looking forward to a good debate. ;-D
To reiterate my earlier comments, I suggest that the definition of Euthanasia proposed here is too narrow and subjective as you could never know for certain eg if a coma is definitely irreversible, or that an illness will definitely be terminal, or that it might not be curable at some point in the future. Plus with the greatest will in the world, even if you initially only intended it to apply to the most obvious cases - it introduces the slippery slope argument that eventually it will affect more and more borderline cases. Far better to have a solid moral line past which we know not to cross in my view.
I also have doubts that anyone should unquestioningly endorse euthanasia - as there are at least the following risks/issues you would need to adequately address, which I'm not convinced you could ever fully safeguard against:
1) With an ageing population, hospitals under increasing strain and governments struggling to meet pensions demands, isn't allowing Euthanasia rather too tempting for less scrupulous governments / hospital trusts to manipulate into an 'easy solution' to many of these problems? I think society should think very deeply indeed into whether we want to hand the legal power over human life and death into the hands of anyone. In sunny old England where I am from, we repealed the death penalty decades ago - largely because we recognised the significant dangers of giving human beings that level of power - and the total irreversibility of getting such a crucial decision wrong.
2) How can you ever be certain you have genuine 'informed consent' from the patient? Particularly in the case of people suffering secondary depression alongside their primary illness (very often depression can develop because the patient is suffering an ongoing illness). Perhaps for several months they might feel like ending it all, but then after that they might bounce back and feel more positive again. Also, how do you prevent psychological pressure being subtly put on a patient, either by doctors or relatives: "we're struggling to cope with the stress...", "wouldn't it be easier for everyone if..?" etc. So on paper the patient has consented, but behind the scenes they have been psychologically 'worn down'. This is particularly delicate in a situation eg where there is a wealthy aged relative, and family who stand to inherit upon the death of said relative.
3) The present set of medical ethics makes it clear that a doctor's duty is to care for, respect and preserve human life - and not to kill. As soon as you remove this crucial safeguard, and start blurring the lines, not only does it place us in uncharted and potentially very dangerous territory - but also it puts a tremendous level of responsibility on the doctor. It is one thing to cope with losing a patient for making a mistake when you were trying to save them - it is entirely another thing to know that your direct action deliberately and intentionally ended the life of another.
4) From a theological point of view, if life is granted to humanity from a higher power - then it raises the moral question of whether anyone should have the right to take life away (even from oneself). If you don't believe in God, this is probably less of an issue for you (unless it turns out there actually is a God after all, but we can debate the merits and drawbacks of Pascal's Wager another time) - but plenty of people do believe in God, and the sacredness of human life, so I have included this argument. For me it happens to be the most significant point.
I'll close with the same sound-bite as before, as I think it is catchy and makes my argument sound cleverer:
I believe it was G K Chesterton that said: "whenever you take down a fence, at least pause long enough to consider why it was there in the first place".
The greatest will in the world is not the will to die. Rather, it is the will to live. Doctors, or surgeons, as you see, get an undertaking signed from the relatives of the patient, stating that they will perform the surgery to the best of their abilities, but if they fail, they are not held responsible. Almost all doctors (excluding the unscrupulous ones) are very well aware of the value of life and have their sole aim as to work to safeguard it. Sometimes, it is better to alleviate suffering than to see a patient writhe in pain. Most people (myself included) cannot bear to see others in pain. Even if the person in question is my deadliest foe, I will sympathize with him if he suffers.
1)I agree that euthanasia is a rather tempting solution for all the problems you"ve mentioned. But, we must accept that past a certain age and level of mental abilities, it is highly difficult and causes a great deal of stress to the people who care for the patients. I see my own parents suffer enormous strain to take care of my grandparents. How long will it be before the caretakers break down? Even the strongest heart has its limits. If this continues, we are only looking at a population with a decreasing mental fitness and well-being. With the amount of age-related and chronic diseases rising, we"re looking at stagnation, not progress. We need to move forward and concentrate on other activities. We need to look at how to nurture the future, not how to put a bandage on the present.
2)By your own definition, we can never have an individual with a fixed opinion. People are fickle. Their tastes and interests vary over time. With your logic, suicides must be a punishable offense, as if the victims had survived, they might have lived a better life. There is no "what if" in life. You cannot go back and change things. You"ve got to accept things as they come. Maybe if a patient chooses to die, and he does, he dies on a high note, knowing that he chose his destiny. If he doesn"t, he needs to pull out of his past and live his life. All sorts of factors are out there that cause stress to people. For example, I see smoke coming out of a factory and go, "That is causing an increase of carbon dioxide and I"m going to suffer because of it." You choose what affects you and what not. Some of the happiest people in the world are surrounded by problems we cannot even think of. But yet they are happy because they choose to not give in. (The Dark Knight trilogy is a good example)
3)I"m assuming you"ve seen the film "I, Robot". V.I.K.I makes an argument about how its definition of the three laws has evolved over time. I"m not saying that we should kill people, just that people should stop fighting against events and just go with the flow. Stop trying to assert control. All the fight and struggle you see in hospitals is because of people afraid of death. A thorough understanding of life and death will help all patients. Patients holding onto a life that is fading is like carrying water around in a basket with holes. It is just not going to be of use.
4)There is no question of God here. I"m a theist and an atheist. The foundation of Hindutva (I"m strong only with my religion, I cannot talk about others), is based on people accepting what is present. We all are gods, and we are the creators of life. If we create life, we must nurture it, and when the time comes, let go of it. I"m sure that other religions are based on similar principles, just worded differently. Yes, we do have the right to take life away, if we have the power to give it. The question really is, "Are we justified in taking this life away ?" If we decide to remove lives, then we must make sure we"re justified in our view. And we must never turn back after we"ve made our decision. Indecisiveness about things (including the will to live) has been the biggest hindrance to life since its inception.
I think I"ve made a good argument. Over to you, Con.
I notice that the core thread of Pro's argument appeals to the emotional - which I fully empathise with, as I am not a monster! If I saw a member of my own family suffering, then it doubtless might encourage me to endorse Euthanasia too. But this is precisely the danger, you cannot use purely "heart" arguments to endorse something - you need to use "head" arguments to consider all the risks and ensure you have adequately safeguarded against all the potential "bad stuff" you are risking by introducing Euthanasia - which the logical core of my argument will maintain that Pro will not be able to demonstrate.
In order for Pro to make the bold statement "This House endorses Euthanasia", they need to demonstrate adequate safeguards against my original points - which I will re-summarise, as I do not believe Pro has yet directly addressed them:
1) How do you ensure less scrupulous governments, doctors, hospital trusts don't abuse Euthanasia. And by this I don't mean that they will arbitrarily start killing people "en masse", but eg a hospital with a tight budget might instead start endorsing a subtle policy whereby doctors continually reiterate the option of Euthanasia to their patients, rather than stressing the alternate palliative care options - which would of course cost the hospital more in the long term.
2) How do you ever ensure you have genuinely obtained "informed consent" from the patient? This is of paramount importance if you're to be certain you're doing the right thing in killing them.
3) How do you safeguard against introducing a dichotomy to the role of the doctor? Most of the time they are trying to preserve life, then with Euthanasia you introduce one glaring exception. What about when the lines start to blur?
4) You boldly state "yes, we do have the right to take life away" - but I don't fully understand by what authority you can claim this.
To deal briefly with some of your direct points to me (4,000 characters is not a great deal for a verbose person like me!)
"The greatest will in the world is not the will to die. Rather, it is the will to live."
- I think you have misunderstood my use of this phrase in my argument, I was merely using an idiom that you can have the best intentions to allow Euthanasia in only the "most obvious" cases, but pretty soon it will descend down a slippery slope.
"With your logic, suicides must be a punishable offense [sic]"
- Not at all, I was merely questioning the assumed right that humanity has to take away life - even from the self. I don't say you should punish it, or even that you would have the right to punish it, I was merely raising the moral question that you can't just assume we have the right to take away life.
"I'm assuming you've seen the film "I, Robot"."
- I have seen most films, and I'm delighted to see that you use films as analogies for arguments because I do the same! I think they are a great modern cultural frame of reference. I actually agree with your third point to a great extent, that a great many modern problems arise from the very modern viewpoint that this life and this world are all that there is - which makes people try to desperately cling on to things at times which they might be better letting go of. I think, as a result, this is the strongest case you make for your argument.
"There is no question of God here."
- you may have a point, I was merely stating my own frame of reference as I felt it disingenuous of me not to include what I believe. Regardless of your stance on God, the moral point remains "do we have the right to take away life" - and if so, on what authority?
Konig forfeited this round.
As promised on the comments board, I will intentionally submit no argument for my Round 3.
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