Varrack approached me about doing this debate, and I think it will be an interesting discussion. Euthanasia is an important question now more than ever, as more and more places begin considering the merits of some form of euthanasia. I look forward to an engaging and insightful discourse.
There is a minimum of 2,500 ELO needed to vote on this debate. Debaters have 72 hours and 10,000 characters per round to make their cases.
Voluntary euthanasia is morally justifiable for terminally ill, adult patients who have a reliable prognosis of 6 months or less to live.
Voluntary Euthanasia - when a life is painlessly ended or allowed to end at the request or with the volition of the patient
Moral - concerning principles of right and wrong behavior
Justifiable - capable of being justified, where "justified" means having a sufficient or good reason for something
Terminally Ill - indicating that a person has a disease or injury that will eventually end their life
Adult - a person who is 18 years or older
Reliable - believable; more likely to be true, accurate, or correct than not
Prognosis - a judgement by a panel of doctors that estimates the amount of time a person has remaining to live
1. No forfeits
2. Any citations or foot/endnotes must be individually provided in the text of the debate
3. No new arguments in the final round; R1 is just for acceptance
4. Maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere
5. No trolling
6. No "kritiks" of the topic (i.e. arguments that challenge an assumption in the resolution)
7. My opponent accepts all definitions and waives his/her right to add resolutional definitions
8. Debaters may propose competing ideas of what "morality" means and how it should be interpreted
9. The BOP is Shared; Con must argue that Voluntary Euthanasia is not morally justifiable
10. Violation of any of these rules or of any of the R1 set-up merits a loss
R2. Pro's Case, Con's Case
R3. Pro rebuts Con's Case, Con rebuts Pro's Case
R4. Pro defends Pro's Case, Con defends Con's Case
R5. Pro rebuts Con's Case, Con rebuts Pro's Case, both Crystallize
1 - http://www.merriam-webster.com...
2 - http://www.bbc.co.uk...
3 - http://www.nhs.uk...
4 - http://www.euthanasia.com...
...again to Varrack for this debate and to anyone who reads/vote on it.
Thanks to Varrack for the debate! I will now lay out my case.
OB1. Types of Euthanasia
There are several kind of euthanasia available, including voluntary, non-voluntary, and involuntary, with active and passive variations of each one of those three. Given that the resolution only specifies that I am defending "voluntary euthanasia," both active and passive voluntary euthanasia are my ground. If I can affirm just one of these varieties, I have affirmed that voluntary euthanasia is morally justifiable.
OB2. Morally Justifiable
The resolution requires me to affirm that voluntary euthanasia is morally justifiable. "Justified" is to provide a good reason for something. It is therefore not my job to show that voluntary euthanasia is actually moral, nor is it my job to show that the reasons for supporting it are the best reasons. Merely, I must show that there are "good" reasons to believe in the morality of voluntary euthanasia. So, for instance, one might say that there were good reasons for people to believe the Flat Earth Theory (shout out to Wylted) way back in the mists of time before technology and science advanced, but those people were, at the time, scientifically justified in holding that belief. Similarly, I need not demonstrate that my position is ultimately correct or the best stance to take; I just need to show that there are good reasons for my stance. For Con to successfully negate, he needs to show that there is no reasonable ethical or logical ground for me to stand on.
C1. A Human Dignity-Based Approach
SC1. What is Human Dignity?
I am sure that it will be an uncontroversial statement that people have human dignity. Hugo Badau describes human dignity as entitling one to a "life sufficient for self-respect, relief from needless drudgery, and opportunity for the release of productive energy."  The question naturally arises, though, wherefrom we derive this dignity.
Human have human dignity because we are self-determining. A table, for instance, cannot reasonably be said to have dignity, because it cannot make choices. The same thing is true of a bug, or even something more advanced, such as a cow, because the cow is governed by instinct, and cannot choose to override its instincts. The ability to knowingly choose to act morally or immorally, even when our choices go against our natural urges, makes us unique moral agents, as we are perhaps the only entities capable of making moral choices in every situation, even if we fail more often than we succeed. This special moral position is the root of our human dignity, for when our ability to make choices is denied, we are reduced to the level of a bug, cow, or table. We are treated as inanimate things, and denied that quality that makes us morally special. This is a large part of the reasoning behind why coercion, unjust imprisonment, torture, maiming, etc. are wrong, because they limit our ability to self-determine.
SC2. Respecting Autonomy
It is not a difficult leap of logic to then apply this notion to the debate at hand. If we believe that self-determination is the root of human dignity, then it would be wrong to deny the requests of a patient who has made a choice to die. To deny them that ability to choose is to treat them as a mere thing, and not an agent with moral worth.
SC3. Preventing Needless Suffering
Suffering also poses a danger to human dignity, as the condition of suffering is choice- and freedom-limiting. Someone who is suffering may not be able to engage in activities that they would otherwise want to engage in because the pain of acting is simply too high. Needless suffering is therefore something to be ameliorated where possible. It is also important to clarify that suffering is both emotional and physical. Even if palliative care is able to remedy or suppress the physical ailments causing pain, it may be unable to alleviate the emotion and psychological trauma a patient may be undergoing. When emotional suffering is excluded, estimates place the number of euthanasia-qualified patients in unremitting pain at around 25,000.  That is a significant number of people who could be helped by voluntary euthanasia practices.
Moreover, there is something cruel and unusual about allowing people to languish in pain awaiting their death, something analogous almost to torture. Pain and degradation are both tools of torture, and patients can feel both, often at excruciatingly high intensities. Therefore, it would seem that if we also hold torture to be a fundamental violation of human dignity, we must also classify the pain of a euthanasia candidate similarly. In both cases though, the pain and humiliation are wrong, and should be halted. If the goal of our medical professionals truly is to do no harm, it seems that they are doing harm by prolonging the life of a suffering person.
C2. Practical Moral Reasoning
"First, consider that often people commit suicide actively, not passively, and the idea is that they want to be able to exercise control in how their life ends. Second, because one does not want to risk a failed suicide attempt, which could result in pain, humiliation, and disfigurement, one might find that they can meet their goal of death best by the assistance of another, in particular a physician."  Certainly we can agree that many people will want to end their lives when faced with the possibility of having their imminent death dragged out before their eyes over a series of months. When we confront this practical reality--that people in such positions will attempt to kill themselves--we have to consider whether there is a way to mitigate the damages that might occur. Suicide or attempts at it are inevitabilities, so rather than attempt to fight it, it may be more morally productive to make it less harmful.
Consider, if I am an investor, and I know that I will inevitably have a bad day trading and will lose money, rather than becoming super paranoid trying to avoid ever having a bad day, it makes more sense to simply wager less and stockpile reserves of cash in case I need a cushion. The first method (i.e. me doing tons of research at all hours of the night to try to find the right stocks that will only ever earn me money), will just wear me down. The second method accepts that there will come a time when bad things happen, but we've taken steps to mitigate those negative effects to produce the most desirable outcome.
Similarly, voluntary euthanasia is a way of accepting that bad stuff is going to happen, and then working to mitigate those eventual harms. It seems to produce worse conclusions to not offer voluntary euthanasia than to offer it.
C3. Ancillary Benefits
SC1. Psychological Reassurance
"They argue, however, that many individuals who never use the practices would benefit. Some patients would feel better cared for and more secure if they knew that their physician would provide a lethal injection or supply of pills if they requested these means to escape suffering. Knowing that assisted suicide or euthanasia is available would also reassure members of society in general, including those who are not severely ill. 'While relatively few might be likely to seek assistance with suicide if stricken with a debilitating illness, a substantial number might take solace knowing they could request such assistance.'"  This links back to preventing needless suffering.
SC2. Religious Freedom
The Unitarian Universalist Church specifically advocates for "self-determination in dying."  I am sure that other faiths or sects within various faiths hold similar views. Prohibiting voluntary euthanasia thus violates these faiths' practitioners' rights to freely exercise their religious beliefs. This connects back to the importance of self-determination in human dignity. Also, faith is often a source of meaning to people, and it thus seems cruel to deny them access to their faith.
SC3. Medical Resources and Expenses
(a) Allowing individuals to end their lives early would logically free up oftentimes scares resources for more needy individuals. Drugs, facilities, as well as doctors and nurses engaged in palliative care can be redistributed to help those who are not approaching imminent death. This actually will maximize free choice in the long run, by improving the freedom and quality of life of those who will continue to live, while respecting the choices of those who would rather die.
(b) Euthanasia would help alleviate sometimes staggering debt incurred by the families of those in end-stage care. 
SC4. Legality Itself Is A Plus
"In 2005, a study by the New England Journal of Medicine found that only 0.4 percent of all euthanasia procedures were carried out without the patient’s explicit permission...A 1991 report...put the number at 0.8 percent. In other words, giving a nationwide go-ahead for doctors to legally end their patient’s lives actually halved the number of unwanted deaths."  Making the procedure above-the-board incentivizes doctors who may think euthanasia is a good option to actually discuss it with their patients and seek their permission, rather than to act unilaterally. Legalizing the practice of euthanasia is the best way to regulate it, to ensure that it isn't abused. It's a similar principle to pot legalization--by making it a legitimate enterprise, people are more likely to report abuses and cooperate with government oversight professionals.
1 - http://www.jstor.org...
2 - http://philosophyfaculty.ucsd.edu...
3 - http://www.iep.utm.edu...
4 - https://www.health.ny.gov...
5 - http://euthanasia.procon.org...
6 - http://listverse.com...
Thanks again to Varrack for the debate. The resolution is resoundingly negated. Over to Con...
Thanks for the intriguing case bsh1. I hope you don't mind if I borrow your formatting since I'm pretty fond of it. ;)
I concur that voluntary euthanasia as opposed to other kinds of euthanasia is the matter at hand, and that for me to successfully negate the resolution I need to show that there is a lack of an ethical or logical base for euthanasia. I will now explain my case.
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. Philosopher 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. Some 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. When under such pain, patients become less capable of making reasonable decisions, thus signifying the illogical nature of handing patients the choice of elimination. The worse the suffering, the less rational the patient becomes, which means that the decision to be eliminated can be easily influenced by external factors, such as family members encouraging the patient to be euthanized,
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. Unethical Similitudes
SC1. Connection to 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.
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. 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.
What can be an influential factor in one's choice to be eliminated is the encouragement from family and friends towards the patient to carry out this deed. For someone to encourage another person to take their own life is widely frowned upon, and obviously unethical. The person has committed a serious wrong, and could even be held responsible for the life that was taken. 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". Knowing this, we must acknowledge how few differences exist between suicide baiting and someone encouraging an ill patient to be euthanized. If euthanasia is legalized or morally accepted, family members would begin to push others they know to " just have their life ended". The only noticeable difference is the presence of a physician to commit the act. Why should a legal offense be looked upon as immoral but the encouragement of a patient to be eliminated be allowed as a decisive factor in eugenic actions?
SC3. Slippery Slope
This argument doesn't necessarily contend that involuntary euthanasia will be legalized, but that the laws will be broadened to allow less and less ethical situations to be legalized in the name of euthanasia. This has happened before with other laws: "The movement from voluntary to involuntary euthanasia would be like the movement of abortion from 'only for the life or health of the mother' as was proclaimed by advocates 30 years ago to today's 'abortion on demand' even if the baby is half born". By giving too much power to those with medical professions, we may end up allowing situations to occur that we will regret. Since it is the nature of society to become more loose on laws, it is logical to say that legalizing euthanasia will result in relatively worse scenarios to occur, which we have already seen with planned parenthood laws. In fact, the Netherlands have already traveled down the slippery slope and have legalized non-voluntary euthanasia which has resulted in the deaths of thousands without their consent. Thus, this argument is valid and legitimate as it illustrates the threats of law broadening.
And so I negate. Over to Pro for rebuttals.
= Sources =
Thanks, Varrack! I will now rebut Con's case.
C1. Life is Valuable
SC1. Sanctity of Life
Con writes, "Human life ought to be preserved because it contains immanent goodness that cannot be replaced by any other thing." I have several objections.
1. Con commits a bare assertion fallacy. What this means is that he asserts something as true without ever explaining why it's true. Con talks about the fact that all humans have dignity just by being alive, but he never gives a single reason as to why this is true.
2. We would not say that a blank canvas is worth much money, yet we would probably agree that a Vermeer painting is worth more than I can possibly pay. The point here is that the canvas is not what is valuable, it is the painting that matters. Life is simply a canvas--it is what we do with it that adds meaning and color. If a person we locked in a 10x10 cell with no light or other human interaction, that is not a life worth living. Life therefore has instrumental good--and that is not to undermine that importance of that instrumental good. If used wrongly or abused outright, the instrument can lose its utility. But, ultimately, it is only an instrument just as the canvas is--the "painting" is what matters.
3. Next, Pro asserts that life is an end in itself, and not a means. In other words, Pro rejects the claim that life is an instrument, tool, or road to the desired end, but rather that it is the destination in itself. Pro commits another bare assertion fallacy here, as he utterly fails to explain why this is the case.
4. Pro commits an Appeal to Authority fallacy by name-dropping Kant. Merely saying that Kant argued X is not a sufficient argument. Pro must explain Kant's reasoning in order to warrant Kant's assertions within the text of the debate.
5. Kant's theories are a form of deontological ethics, and require that we treat people always as ends in themselves. This produces a set of strict rules about how we can interact with people, including aboslute prohibitions on lying, stealing, cheating, etc. This creates a moral system with contradictory more imperatives (i.e. it violates the rule of noncontradiction, rendering it logically invalid.) "[D]eontological moral systems...provide no clear way to resolve conflicts between moral duties. A deontological moral system should include both a moral duty not to lie and one to keep others from harm, for example, but...how is a person to choose between those two moral duties? A popular response to this is to simply choose the 'lesser of two evils,' but that means relying on which of the two has the least evil consequences and, therefore, the moral choice is being made on a [utilitarian] rather than a deontological basis." 
8. It does treat people as ends in themselves to respect their choices. About Kant's theories: "Ends-in-themselves are autonomous beings with their own agendas; failing to recognize their capacity to determine their own actions would be to thwart their freedom and undermine reason itself. When we reflect on alternative courses of action, means-to-ends, things like buildings, rocks, and trees, deserve no special status in our deliberations about what goals we should have and what means we use to achieve them."  So, it seems that (a) Kant's logic supports my interpretation of human dignity, and (b) it would demean an end-in-itself to deny it autonomy, including the choice to decide when to die.
7. Cross-apply my arguments about human dignity here.
SC2. Devaluation of Life
Pro argues that euthanasia downgrades the lives of the terminally ill, and is thus wrong.
1. This point is predicated on the idea that life is sanctified. So, if I successfully refute SC1 than this point is taken out as well.
2. The terminally ill are, quite bluntly, going to die anyway. Euthanasia thus does not send a signal that their lives are not worth living, rather, it simply accepts that they are going to die soon no matter what, and so allows them to die on their own terms. It would devalue life if we were killing people who were imminently about to die, but where life is already going to end, it is not demeaning to euthanize. There is no net loss.
3. Euthanasia is not a diminution of life, but rather a celebration of human agency and life. Allowing people to pass away before they are incontinent, in pain, drugged up, etc. is actually a way of affirming their dignity, by allowing them to avoid conditions that make them feel less human or degraded. It allows them to die with their families nearby, of their own accord, and with their faculties intact. It is precisely because we value their quality of life that we empower them to choose when to die.
Pro asserts: "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."
1. This doesn't seem to be much of an argument on the face of it. Every decision I make could be questioned with this line of reasoning. How do I know if I go out running today that I won't trip and fall and die? Humans are never perfectly positioned to know things of this sort, and so if we require perfect knowledge of what is in our best interests before we can act, then we will literally never act. We have to, therefore, content ourselves with the fact that there will always be a certain level of risk in the decisions we choose, but that shouldn't preclude us from being able to make those decisions.
2. The resolution specifically talks about "reliable" prognoses, so quack diagnoses are not something I have to defend. And, given the above, we need to look at what is most likely the case, rather than calling for perfect standards. So, what is the likelihood that a prognosis is accurate: "doctors got the prognosis right only about 20 percent of the time, and 63 percent of the time overestimated their patients' survival."  Also: "In the few studies that have investigated physicians' abilities to prognosticate death, doctors usually overestimate survival time by at least twice as much. There are many theories to explain this, chief among them that doctors tend to be overly optimistic with patients they've known and treated for a long time."  In other words, 83% of the time (or perhaps more), patients died at the time or SOONER than their doctors predicted. In which case, euthanasia would be in the patient's interests, because the patient's death is imminent. That puts the "interests" argument in favor of the Pro position in this debate, as in the vast majority of cases it is in the patient's interests.
3. Cross-apply my arguments about reduced suffering, psychological stress, and insane medical bills here. Even if a terminally ill patient outlives the doctor's initial estimate, it may still be in there interests to be euthanized.
4. Con gives zero evidence that shows that doctors misdiagnose patients in volumes sufficient enough to merit an anti-euthanasia stance.
5. Con also argues that people facing death cannot adequately asses themselves and make rational decisions. One solution to this is a living will or other kind of document that a person fills out when they are not ill and that describes what they would want their end-of-life care to entail, including whether and under what conditions euthanasia would be acceptable to them.
6. It is also wrong to assume that people in adverse situations cannot make rational choices. Humans encounter stress all the time, and that stress can always be significant. Yet, we are still considered to be able to make rational decisions while stressed. A terminally ill patient still has the right to decide what treatments they want under the law, and unless Con believes that they truly are not rational, then his position would take away all of the rights, including their ability to manage their own finances and so forth.
C3. Unethical Similitudes
Firstly, I just want to say that this whole contention rests on a flawed premise. Just because X is similar to Y, and Y is bad, does not mean that X is bad. For instance, lethal self-defense is similar to murder, but one is morally justifiable the other is not.
SC1. Connection to Suicide
Pro claims that: "the only difference between assisted suicide and euthanasia is that the person who is helping with the death is a physician." This is obviously untrue. In the case of euthanasia, the patient is terminally ill and so is going to die anyway. Suicide is not okay because it ends a life that likely still has a whole future to live, but in euthanasia, the death is imminent. The tradeoff (losing a few months to prevent pain vs. losing possibly years) is significantly different.
Moreover, Pro's only argument that suicide is wrong is the claim of the sanctity of life (and an ad populum fallacy). If that claim is undermined, then this point is really moot.
The solution here is to simply regulate the practice. California has made it illegal, and so it seems feasible to do that in more cases. Either way, this seems like a manageable problem, and not one with enough weight to negate on its own.
SC3. Slippery Slope
1. Pro has only shown that a slippery slope is possible, not that it is likely or certain. Every moral decision that we make entails a risk of a slippery slope, but yet we still go ahead and make those calls. Pro needs to show that its likely for this to have any weight. We should focus on the here-and-now, and not on vague "what ifs..."
2. Why slippery slope and not intense incline? Surely, slaveowners thought that emancipation was a slippery slope. One man's slippery slope is another's idea of progress. Pro has yet to show that the supposed outcomes are actually bad.
1 - http://tinyurl.com...
2 - http://www.iep.utm.edu...
3 - http://tinyurl.com...
4 - http://tinyurl.com...
Thus, I affirm. Over to Con...
Well-argued bsh1. I will use this round to rebut Pro's case.
We must take into consideration the factor that pain is a natural part of every life. Suffering is inevitable; whether one is medically I'll or not, they will always have to go through some form of suffering, whether physical, emotional, or both. Instead of treating pain as an evil that serves no purpose, we should strive to become better from it, and acknowledge that cannot simply run away from their trials. By using eugenics as a solution to pain, we are admitting that we are giving up on life and are done trying. This is to treat life as something of little worth, which is problematic because life itself contains worth. Life is, in fact, its own standard, thus rendering it implausible for it to be measured by any other means. If we were to treat life as an easel with each person as a painting, each painting would not exist without the easel in the first place. Although the painting adds value to the easel, it doesn't mean that the easel itself is without worth. To say such is to say that people are without worth, which is obviously incorrect. Pro seems to already agree with by arguing that human dignity constitutes moral worth by self-determination.
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.
A. Psychological Reassurance
Thanks, Varrack! Onto my case.
These are CONCEDED.
C1. Human Dignity
SC1/2. What is HD/Respecting Autonomy
(a) Big Brother is Watching You. Using Con's line of reasoning, you could make a case that humans must be controlled constantly, in order to ensure that they never make "bad" choices. This could then justify a kind of Orwellian society of oppression and intimidation. Surely, this isn't something that Con would truly advocate for, yet his statement that "it's not ethical to blindly trust people to make the most moral decisions" would seem to form the very basis for a 1984-like society.
(b) People should be free to make the wrong decisions to have meaningful choice. If people cannot choose to be immoral, they cannot meaningfully choose to be moral either. For example, suppose that person A is given the following choice: "steal some money, or donate to charity," and that person B is confronted with this choice: "donate to charity." Person A, by choosing the moral option, has meaningfully rejected immorality. They had a choice to do the wrong thing, and walked away. Person B on the other hand, had no choice but to act morally whether he or she wanted to or not, and so they did not have a meaningful choice. In fact, B had no choice at all. Con says it is not ethical to trust people to make the right decisions, but when we deny them the opportunity to make the wrong decisions, we deny them choice, and reduce them to the level of animals or robots unable to think for themselves. That is dehumanizing and fails to treat people as agents with dignity, but rather as kinds of automatons to be programmed and managed.
(c) People should be free to make the wrong decisions to grow as individuals. If we can never make the wrong choices, morally-speaking, then we can never feel guilt or remorse, which are key character-building emotions. We only appreciate the importance of ethics and morality because we have felt the pain of being wronged and the guilt of doing wrong to others. These negative emotions highlight the value of the positive ones, and reinforce our desire to be moral people. Therefore, in a world where people had no chance to choose to do wrong, they would also never have a chance to understand why acting morally was good. The whole reason that people have moral worth is that we are capable of appreciating the moral dimension, but by removing free choice, you deny people the ability to do that. Just like a horse cannot understand why morality is good, so too would people be reduced to that level.
(d) Freedom is not a free pass. If I choose to do something wrong I must face the legal and ethical consequences of that action. Freedom is not allowing people to do whatever they want without penalty; it is not restricting people from choosing to act in a particular way in the first place. And even that has limits. Since autonomy has such value, the only restriction on autonomous actions is that they cannot infringe on the autonomy of others. This is the system that best maximizes autonomy. In the child example, the child doesn't have full autonomy, which is why his parents are his custodians. So, the child shouldn't be able to run out into the street, but this doesn't actually clash with my claim that most grown adults, through living wills or other means of consent, can autonomously acquiesce to euthanasia. Remember, the resolution is specific to adults. And, children are a special case: they are capable, unlike bugs, cows, and tables, of having choice sometime in the future, which makes them worthy of unique protection and care, but, in their childlike state, they are not any different from those things. So, yes, they are at that level, but they should be protected because of the value placed on autonomy.
The conclusion we can draw thus far is that you cannot limit other's freedom, though you can choose to limit your own, since only you can accept the consequences of your own actions. These arguments also affirm the role of free choice in grounding the concept of human dignity.
(e) Con then regurgitates his arguments about patients being coerced. This is, at the moment, only a theoretical harm. Con offers no statistics or evidence that reliably describes how often this kind of coercion occurs. If only .0001% of patients face this kind of situation, then the benefits to human dignity may outweigh the harms. Moreover, regulator practices can be used to curb this kind of coercive interaction.
I am not really sure where the eugenics tangent fits into the debate, but the general thrust of Con's assertions is that pain is natural and useful, and so we should not seek to eliminate it.
(a) Some suffering is bad. Con claims that not all pain is a bad thing, and I can agree with that. But "unnecessary" suffering is bad. Unless Con is willing to say that every single instance of suffering that has ever occurred is good, we can say that there is a kind of suffering that is unacceptable. Torture is probably the clearest example of this type of suffering; it is wanton. The type of pain that people in end-stage care are going through is often pointless--it is, essentially, a form of torture. People suffer oftentimes without learning anything, and with increasing hopelessness, discomfort, and desperation. Moreover, there is no point in resisting, since death is imminent. Prolonging the suffering only makes the ordeal more intolerable. When I suffer in training to climb a mountain, I am doing it because I have a goal in mind, but the suffering of terminal illness is forced upon people, it is not in pursuit of some goal.
(b) Con never disagrees that suffering oftentimes limits choice. This is DROPPED. Extend it.
(c) Con's arguments could again be taken to their logical conclusion: suffering is really useful, so we should deliberately make more of it. If suffering "contains value because it provides the opportunity to grow in wisdom, character, and compassion," then maybe we should deliberately seek to make people suffer more. May be I should go around schoolyards beating up small children, or maybe I should pummel my friends to within an inch of their life. After all, I will be helping them develop their character, right? Con talks about the dangers of a slippery slope, yet his arguments really do epitomize that problem more than mine do.
(d) Regarding the easel example, this is a sort of nod to my earlier mention of the canvas and the painting. I will simply cross-apply that example here. While the canvas may be a prerequisite to the painting, that does not make the canvas more valuable than the painting. The canvas may even have some worth, but again, in terms of magnitude, the painting outweighs. I may pay $10 for the canvas, but $100 for the painting. So, even if the canvas (or the easel) has some worth or utility, it is only instrumental value. I do not value the canvas or the easel for itself, but I do value the painting for itself. The painting is the end, the easel and canvas are the tools. In that sense, Con's own example works against him, since he has spent this whole debate trying to prove that the canvas itself was the end.
Con claims I make a bare assertion fallacy which "an easily be proved false if one can find a terminally ill patient that has never attempted to take their own life." But, Con only says that because he misunderstands my argument. I am not saying that EVERY patient will attempt suicide; I am saying that some patients, in an effort to spare themselves the pain, will do so. In England alone, more than 300 terminally ill people commit suicide, and more people have likely tried. 
Con claims that euthanasia won't make death less painful, and claims I have no warrant for this. Voluntary euthanasia is carried out by doctors and people trained to do so. Rather than having an amateur attempt to end their own life, professional help will logically increase the likelihood of success and painlessness, esp. when using state-approved methods. May suicide victims may use painful methods, such as slashing wrists, out of desperation. But that desperation can be lessened with voluntary euthanasia.
Con DROPS the link between my claims here; i.e., he never disputes that IF suicide is an inevitability AND euthanasia reduces the chances of pain, that the conclusion I drew is accurate.
C3. Ancillary Benefits
SC1. Psychological Reassurance
I am not talking so much about reassuring families (though that can happen) as I am reassuring victims. After all, the patients are undergoing physical AND psychological pain, whereas the families are only undergoing the latter.
SC2. Religious Freedom
Prohibiting euthanasia does disallow Unitarians their religious rights, as I noted earlier. Giving people a choice whether or not to euthanize maximizes religious freedom by allowing people of all religions (both pro and con on euthanasia) to make a decision in accordance with the faith. Con NEVER DISPUTES that religious freedom is important to the discussion on euthanasia.
SC3. Medical Resources
Pro DROPS my arguments that euthanasia actually reduces debt and increases resources for more needy patients. Certainly, physicians should respect life, but I would argue that physicians respect life by not making people suffer and by procuring resources necessary to save people who are savable. Ultimately, the call to do no harm is one solely of interpretation.
As I said earlier: "Making the procedure above-the-board incentivizes doctors...to actually discuss it with their patients...rather than to act unilaterally...It's a similar principle to pot legalization--by making it a legitimate enterprise, people are more likely to report abuses and cooperate with government oversight professionals." So, my study is backed by logic. Con DROPPED my logic. At the very least, 1 study cancels out 1 study.
Over to Con...
Thanks bsh1. I will now defend my case.
C1. Life is Valuable
SC1. Sanctity of Life
It should be obvious why life contains worth, thus being valuable, but nevertheless I shall indulge. Pro himself argues that humans have moral worth due to their dignity and ability to make conscious and rational decisions, of which animals and objects have a lower capability of doing. The fact that they contain autonomy and can self-determine affirms the claim that human life in particular holds value.
In the canvas example, the prerequisite of the painting is the easel, and necessarily must be in order for the painting to be held up. It does not matter whether the easel has a practical net worth that is low, essentially less than the painting, because the existence of the painting depends on the existence of the easel. The fact that the very canvas is dependant upon something else adds value to what it is dependent on, for otherwise it would not be there. Now, we may consider the easel to have less worth from a practical point of view, but when considering all ethics it is logical to determine that the dependence of the canvas on the easel and not vice versa shows the added value of the easel. To put it into simple terms, when A causes B, we can't credit B when it is fully dependent on A. A deserves the credit and thus added value for creating B.
We recognize that life is an end in itself when comprehending what the end goals an individual strives for. This is brought about by the premise that the life of a living entity is the ultimate goal of the actions of the living entity, with no further actions in mind. Everything one does retraces back to affect themselves in some way, making life the target of itself, thus an end in itself.
The deontological system of treating people as ends to themselves doesn't necessarily warrant enforcing a set of strict rules. In a sense of freedom, one who chooses to do wrong can learn on their own what was immoral about their actions without being forced to do anything. Even so, rules don't necessarily disallow people from lying, stealing, etc. anyways, but rather impose consequences for doing such things. The difference between doing such a wrong and euthanasia is that you can't learn from dying. Once you choose to be euthanized, you can't gain any insight or continue to treat life as its own end or its own value, because it has been cut short.
SC2. Devaluation of Life
Life is, in essence, degraded in the sense that patients wish to not live life due to their own reasons. When the ill make this decision, it indicates that there probably is not much worthy of life to live when in a disabled state. Pro states that patients will die soon, no matter what, but this is also the reality for all people. If all people will die eventually, there is no sense in making guesses about what will happen when life can still be lived well even in a fallen state.
C2. Best Interests
My argument here isn't that a perfect knowledge of the future isn't needed for just any situations, but rather for ones that are related to the elimination of life. Of course there is no certainty that one won't run and trip, but both of those circumstances relate to casual day-to-day circumstances that will happen if they do, and we have no control over them. Tripping is different from euthanasia in the sense that it is accidental and less of a choice to make. It is better to have a perfect knowledge of one's future when going into euthanasia because there is no turning back, and when one can't be sure it is unethical to take risks in such heavy circumstances such as eugenics. If the alternative cannot be known, there's no reason to choose the choice that *might* be better according to one or two people.
Doctors may not misdiagnose patients more often than not, but that isn't a reason to fully trust them. If I wanted to get heart surgery and had to choose between a surgeon with a 98% success rate or one with a 100% success rate, the former would not likely be chosen since even the slightest risk is involved. If the former was the only choice, it would still be hard to go with that one knowing that they have the potential to fail.
Ill patients are less likely to think rationally when put under serious pain and given the full choice of their own death. It's not that these people are incapable of all rational thought, but not enough to be trusted with such a burden of the decision to have their life cut short. Whether a patient can make such decisions before being ill is irrelevant because they do not yet know what such pain would be like, and whether or not euthanasia is in their best interest.
1. This premise is only flawed when one can find a distinct difference between the two instances of death. If the two are practically the same, the moral justification of one but not the other is unsound.
2. Since euthanasia patients and suicidal people choose such outcomes over many of the same reasons (pain, depression, etc.), then the situations of the two are often similar. An ill patient may have a few months to live but a suicidal person may only be able to take life for a few months more before attempting their life more times.
3. Regulating the practice of penalizing suicide encouragement doesn't negate the fact that euthanasia patients can be pressured by family/friends to be eliminated in the same manner that suicidal people can be pressured by others.
4. The fact that the slippery slope is entirely possible and has actually happened (i.e. Netherlands) shows that it is a reality and a possible threat. If all the world accepted voluntary euthanasia as morally permissible, there is a likely chance that some countries would follow this slope and broaden the laws some more, which is an accurate prediction knowing the history of past laws.
That'd be it. Pro's turn for the final round!
Thanks for the debate, Varrack!
Con claims: "The fact that they contain autonomy...affirms the claim that human life in particular holds value." In fact, this is not the case, because life and autonomy are not the same. We can imagine a human being locked in a cell, chained to a wall, and tortured into submission. Such a human may have life, but is not autonomous. So, the claim that I am making is that autonomy is what is most valuable, not life itself.
Con writes: "[T]he prerequisite of the painting is the easel...It does not matter whether the easel has a practical net worth that is...less...because the existence of the painting depends on...the easel." Con is basically saying here that life only has instrumental value, insofar as he is comparing it to the easel. So, he is directly contradicting his earlier Kant quote--i.e., Con is shifting the goal-posts of his argument and contradicting himself (first, he says life's not an instrument, then he says it is).
Also, once we view life as the easel (i.e. an instrument), it is easy to make the jump to affirming Voluntary Euthanasia (VE). Something only has instrumental value because it successfully achieves an end. A hammer or easel is only valuable so long they do their jobs. Con and I agree that life is a prerequisite for autonomy, so when a person is deprived of autonomy, their life is no longer achieving its purpose, i.e. to allow people to exercise their autonomy. Thus, as an instrument, life loses value and it's no longer objectionable to end that life.
Even if you don't buy that argument, we can agree that the painting is still worth more than the easel, just as autonomy is worth more than life. If the deprivation of autonomy becomes severe, it will outweigh life (which is less important.) Because the considerations of autonomy outweigh, it is permissible to engage in euthanasia so long as you buy my arguments that VE is the best way to uphold autonomy in the space of the round.
Con posits, "We recognize that life is an end in itself...This is brought about by the premise that the life of a living entity is the ultimate goal of the actions of the living entity, with no further actions in mind."
This clearly contradicts Con's own comparisons of life to an easel, which is a tool, not an end in itself. Con cannot have it both ways. Secondly, Con's justification for life as an end in itself is clear wrong. Actions such as suicide and requests for VE are proof positive that people do not act solely to preserve their life. Moreover, risk-takers like cliff jumpers or untethered tightrope walkers wouldn't take those actions if they put their life first. Rather, this shows that while humans value their lives as prerequisites, they are willing to jeopardize their lives in order to enrich their experiences. Life is clearly not an end in itself here, the experience is what matters.
Next, about deontology, if we value people as ends in themselves, it is ALWAYS immoral to violate their status as ends and use them as tools. To ensure a moral system (this is a debate on morality after all) rules must be strictly enforced. And, if something isn't disallowed, then how can we punish people if they do it? Punishing people for doing stuff that isn't against the rules is unfair--the whole point of having rules is to prevent arbitrary punishment. So, yes, deontology creates a system of strict prohibitions on a variety of actions, and thus violates the principle of non-contradiction--it has no way to resolve disputes between rules. It would be just as absurd, for example, to pass and enforce the following two laws: "all people must go to school," and "school attendance is illegal." It creates a series of catch-22s that leave people in untenable positions. It isn't an issue of learning or not learning, it is an issue of creating understandable, rational, and fair rules; deontology fails to do that, and so it fails to be an effective moral theory.
Con DROPS my point No. 8--Kant, that author he cites, actually supports my case by stressing the importance of autonomy. This TURNS Con's case/supports mine.
1. Con NEVER DISPUTES that SC2 is dependent on SC1, so if I successfully refuted SC1, SC2 is defeated.
2. I argued that the terminally ill will die soon, and so it doesn't really degrade life. Con attempts to say that is true of all humans, but that is really an unfair and inaccurate interpretation of what I said. There is a clear difference between having a few months and many years to live. In the former case, infirmity and pain brought on by illness, as well as the limited time span, will greatly reduce what can be fit into the "painting" of life. Autonomy is being lost rapidly. Whereas, that is not true of a life that has years to go. So, Con's rebuttals here just fall short.
3. Con writes: "When the ill make this decision, it indicates that there probably is not much worthy of life to live when in a disabled state." Con seems to be making my point for me, esp. in regards to what I said earlier: euthanizing people is a way of "allowing them to avoid conditions that make them feel less human or degraded."
1. Con writes: "My argument here isn't that a perfect knowledge...[is] needed for just any situations, but rather for ones that are related to the elimination of life." Using Con's logic, in any situation where one is deciding to take a life, one would first need perfect knowledge before acting. Let's assume that I am a police officer and I reasonably believe that a suspect is reaching for a gun. Can I shoot him in self-defense? I am 80% sure that he is going to grab it and fire at me, but there is still room for doubt. I am probably justified in firing first, if only to say my life or the lives of bystanders, despite my lack of perfect knowledge. But, even if you don't buy into this example, we can still imagine cases where someone justifiably took the life of another without having perfect knowledge of the situation. So, my original point stands: "We have to...content ourselves with...a certain level of risk in the decisions we choose, but that shouldn't preclude us from being able to make those decisions." We have to go with what the facts lead us to believe is the best choice in the moment we're making that choice--even if that decision is ultimately wrong.
2. Con says he would choose the choice with most accurate success rate. Doctor's get it right 83% of the time, but there is no alternative that Con gives. Therefore, doctors are the most accurate in the terms of this debate. And, again, we always accept a level of risk in decision-making, but 83% confidence is a very high level of confidence.
3. Con DROPS this point. Extend: "Even if a terminally ill patient outlives the doctor's initial estimate, it may still be in their interests to be euthanized."
4. Con CONCEDES this.
5. Con says that living wills don't matter because people cannot know what that pain would be like. First, cross-apply my arguments about the ridiculousness of requiring perfect knowledge. Second, people can make reasonable inferences about what it would be like to live like that, in terms of pain and a loss of freedom.
6. Con says that patients are less likely to act rationally under pain, but yet, as I said last round: "we are still considered to be able to make rational decisions while stressed." Con also DOESN'T DENY that people in pain are capable of rationality. And, if anything, pain doesn't make us irrational, it just adds another factor the equation. If we realize that this pain is too much to bear, than it does seem rational to want it to end.
1+2. Con's premise is flawed because suicide and euthanasia are not "practically the same." They may be similar, but they are different enough that one doesn't void the other. Con seems to say that a suicidal person may eventually kill themselves, but the difference in the two cases is that the terminally-ill person WILL die, while the suicidal person does not have to die. Also, including a physician reduces the likelihood of unnecessary suffering in the process, another checkmark in favor of VE.
3. Regulation isn't a perfect fix. But should we give up on regulating driving because crashes and deaths still occur? No. Regulations significantly mitigates the problem, and Con never really quantifies the problem anyway.
4. A cherry-picked example doesn't show a slope is likely. Every decision we make has a risk of a slope so we can't obsess about vague "what ifs..."
5. It's not undoubtedly bad; many people the Netherlands are euthanizing don't have autonomy anyway, so there's no loss there. Con has failed to prove the slope is actually a negative.
Per rule 3, if Con dropped/conceded/didn't rebut something, he cannot contest it this round.
My BOP is laid out in my OB2, which reads, in part, "I need not demonstrate that my position is...correct or the best stance to take; I just need to show that there are good reasons for [it]...Con needs to show that there is no reasonable ethical...ground for me to stand on."
Autonomy matters more than life; life is just an instrument. VE upholds autonomy by respecting voluntary choices/reducing suffering. Also, losses in autonomy while terminally ill mean euthanasia isn't a harm. People can make rational choices while in pain and/or make living wills beforehand. Plus, the terminally ill are going to die soon anyway.
Con relies on deontology, which is a severely flawed moral system. Con cannot even decide if life is an end or a means.
Doctor's prognoses are reliable, and given the expense, pain, and loss of autonomy, euthanasia is in patient's interests.
People are going to try to die regardless, so we should do what we can to ease their passing.
There are good reasons to believe in VE. Thus, I affirm. Please VOTE PRO! Thank you!
Thanks for the debate bsh1!
I conceded these by agreeing to them in Round 2, but they were not dropped, if that is what Pro implies.
C1. Human Dignity
SC1. Autonomy and Dignity
(a/b) The case against autonomy in eugenics is a bit different from Pro's perception of it. To deny the choice to be euthanized isn't to be against *all* forms of choice, but rather the ones that infringe upon the person. In my earlier line, I did not say that it is unethical to trust people to choose but rather to *blindly* give out trust. "Blindly" implies that the decision requires moral analysis and is more serious than one of your casual everyday decisions. There is a huge difference between being forbidden the right not to give to charity and to be responsible for one's own death.
(c) Pro states that the ability for people to make free decisions allows them to grow as individuals and understand the ethical difference between right and wrong. While this may be true, it is irrelevant in the case of euthanasia because once an individual affirms their decision to be eliminated, they *cannot* grow any longer because they are no longer living. Once their choice is complete, they have no future to look forward to and can never understand why their decision was morally right or wrong. They can never feel guilt or remorse any longer, so this point does not apply and is rather moot.
(d) it is true that the government does not prohibit the freedom to choose between right and wrong, but we must understand the nature of the legal consequences tied to certain actions. Since it is impossible to completely eliminate crime, no secular institution actually attempts to do this, but rather penalize such actions. The reason for penalizing these actions is to prevent future immoral actions from occurring and to deter any wrongdoings committed in society. Pro argues that the child does not have full autonomy, but I disagree. Every child has as much independent freedom as adults do. The difference is that children are unable to make fully moral decisions and have a limited knowledge of their future and what would happen in a different t scenario. Since euthanasia patients may or may not be (it is impossible to confirm) able to make the *best* decisions for their future, and do not know what time will bring and whether their decision is in their best interest, the child example still applies.
Of course, suffering can be bad. It can be pointless, yet it may not always be. Tying back to earlier points, the inability to know the future disallows people to know whether or not their suffering is good. It cannot be said, for example, that extensive pain was never helpful to anyone. There are many instances in which suffering could be a benefit, so to assume that it absolutely cannot be and go ahead with euthanasia is outright wrong. This decision is based off of the idea that all suffering is bad, which it surely isn't.
If suffering limits choice, then we can safely say that suffering limits the ability to rationally make a moral decision. This is basically a concession of the argument that people under extensive pain cannot choose as well or wisely than in good health.
Pro's make-more-suffering response is absurd. Not once have I stated that all suffering is good, but rather that it can be. The problem is that we cannot know, so making such decisions under the idea that suffering *might* have a harmful effect in the future is an unsturdy moral base for it.
This point rests on the belief that suicide is worse than euthanasia because it results in more pain. Whether slashing one's wrist is worse than making the weighty, emotionally difficult decision that affects both the patient and family members is debatable. If suicide attempts are an inevitability, that is not to say that such attempts could cease and some people choose to live their lives happily again (which some have). To euthanize someone is to assume that suicide always end fatally, which cannot be known for sure. Rather than eliminating an entire life with a single problem, why not try to make life better for the patient through palliative care instead of assuming that life cannot get better and just turn down their entire future?
Families can become heartbroken from euthanasia. To take *only* the patient's status into account isn't very mindful, since euthanasia affects others and not just the patient.
SC2. Religious Freedom
What the Unitarian faith in particular thinks isn't very relevant to this discussion, since religious freedom has been reduced in this debate to what some people think they should be able to do.
Again, reducing a little bit of debt is canceled out by the fact that life as a whole should be respected versus certain individuals who "need it more".
It is a bit of a stretch to assert that certain patients dying illegally is due to the legality of euthanasia. One example of this is not enough to affirm that it really is.
Thanks Pro and to future readers!
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