1. Rachels argues that the conventional AMA doctrine that euthanizing a patient is always wrong misdirects our moral concern and “leads to decisions concerning life and death on irrelevant grounds.” Carefully explain this argument for rejecting the conventional doctrine. [You may use his example of the ill baby or, if you prefer, an example of your own.]

 

  1. Carefully explain how Rachels argues that no moral distinction rests on the causal distinction between killing and allowing death. [You may use his thought experiment if you like, or not, but if you do be certain you explain what the parts of it mean.]

 

  1. Why does Rachels think that the AMA is in error to assert that cessation of treatment is not intended to terminate a patient’s life? What diagnosis does this lead Rachels to make about the way we usually think about acts of killing and allowing death?

 

  1. What two responses does Rachels offer to the objection that in the case of cessation of treatment, the patient’s condition causes his death, rather than the physician, and this makes a moral difference?

 

  1. Why does Callahan think it is impossible for euthanasia to be justified as permissible entirely on grounds of self-determination (autonomy), even though that is one of the cornerstones of medical ethics? What must the advocate of the permissibility of euthanasia show, and why is it her burden of proof (rather than Callahan’s)?

 

  1. For a physician to act in the patient’s best interests and for her well-being, what must she be able to do, according to Callahan? Why does he think this is impossible regard to a request for euthanasia?

 

  1. What are the three kinds of circumstances involving patient death where we tend to confuse causality and culpability, according to Callahan?

 

  1. What two disturbing implications arise from confusing killing with allowing death, on Callahan’s view?

 

  1. Why does Callahan think that it would be difficult to write a sufficiently precise law to permit euthanasia? Why does he think that no matter how carefully law is written, abuses would happen and enforcement would be difficult?

 

  1. When Callahan considers appeals to legalize euthanasia justified by appeals to autonomy and mercy (an aspect of well-being), he warns that these moral justifications show “inherent slipperiness.” Explain why he thinks this of both justifications.

 

  1. What are the boundaries of the medical profession on Callahan’s view? How can the physician serve the patient past that point?
Exposition Post 5 Prompts