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PHI 208- Supporting the Ideas of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide

Aug 21, 2023

Ethical Question

Does a person with a terminal condition have a right to physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia?

Ideas of Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide


Euthanasia is a medical action to end an individual’s life to give it relief from pain with the permission of the family. If a person suffers from a disease with a zero percentage recovery, doctors can apply this action to that patient. The idea of this medical action starts from ancient Greek beliefs. The process is also known as “the good death”. Although this process has various categories like by choice, non-voluntarily, and involuntarily (Clifton, 2021, p.444).  The process is more complex with the life span of patients. Euthanasia depends on the patient’s consciousness and health condition. The process is performed under several medical laws. This process is actively performed in several countries like the USA, Belgium, and others.

Often people associate the concept of assisted suicide and euthanasia the same and consider these two processes are the same. There are many argumentative statements about these two topics. Assisted suicide is the process of deliberately assisting and encouraging another person in killing themselves. Both concepts are different as per moral and ethical reasoning. Euthanasia is the process of helping patients to get relief from eternal pain under the supervision of expert doctors with the consent of patients or related family members (Neale, 2022, p. 105). As per the debate, moral ethics are greatly affected by these behavioral changes. Researchers suggest that the patients have the right to make their decisions on their health conditions and their deaths. Although there are several laws regarding the direct application of euthanasia. These laws are mostly against performing this medical act. While the passive way of performing euthanasia is considerable in many countries. According to the book “How should one live”, as Thames (2018) says, “In both assisted suicide and euthanasia, we can point to common contributing factors like disease, depression, and so on, but what distinguishes the two procedures is the agent who performs the decisive action”.

 Explanation of the Ethical Theory

Virtue ethics is the related matter of moral enlightening knowledge of understanding an individual’s lifestyle and moral values. The study refers that three prime elements that elaborate on the concept of virtue ethics.  These elements are the character of the individual, the virtue and morality of the person, and the consequences of the actions and their reactions. Furthermore, the concept of virtue ethics is developed by the famous Greek philosopher Aristotle and Plato. Virtue is one of the best character traits in human beings (Pesut, et al, 2020, p. 155). Although this characteristic of human beings was firstly discussed by another great philosopher Socrates. Bernard William’s work on philosophical morality ethics also critically analyzed morality, and duties and obligations. Even in the book “how should one live “the writer also referred that moral theories are also a concerning factor in virtue ethics. It is based on the right and wrong behavior of a person.

A person always feels a dilemma between the war of several decisions. It affects the taken decisions and makes them wonder about their actions and whether it is right or wrong. It also affects their characteristics and the behavioral changes a person would come out as the consequence. Studies also refer the modern virtue ethics as taking the Aristotelian theory to express further discussion on the understanding of characters and their inner state and state of beings (Tachibana, 2020, p. 170). It is important to enlighten the facts of recognition and development of moral characters over a long period. As the character develops, there will be some reflection decisions of positivity and negativity within itself. The characteristic of virtue mirrors the right decisions and the right reasons. Even in several situations, the character often suffers between the right choices and ethical challenges. Virtue ethics is a complex theory of moral ethics.

Application of the Ethical Theory

There are several arguments on virtue ethics and euthanasia. The taken decisions on the matter of ethical dilemma and euthanasia create a conflict between self-consciousness about virtue ethics. Doctors often face these conflicts as a trait of humanity. Arguments also show that according to social behavior the inevitably forthcoming death is often seen as ‘ bad’ or bad luck. According to Kant’s theories, the performance of euthanasia is morally forbidden and his principles create arguments about patients’ consent and their will.  Furthermore, several references suggest that active euthanasia are more preferable to suffering and feeling pain (Van, 2018, p.50). The decision of patients creates several facts about Kant’s principle of autonomy. He suggested a person can utilize the right of euthanasia which leads to the questions of moral values, existence, and death.

Although assisted death creates various arguments against this fact. A doctor can inject a strong drug or a mixture of several drugs to ease the pain. Virtue ethics emphasizes the compassion of identification, suffering, and engagement on the matter of euthanasia.  It highlights the ethical philosophy and human habits in the conflicts of decisions. Some arguments created positive traits about euthanasia and showed the given redemption from intolerable pain. Even the related family of the patients also showed their suffering because of the intolerable pain of their loved ones. The study also refers that, this practice left a great impact on other people.


Clifton, S. (2021, August). Disability and the Complexity of Choice in the Ethics of Abortion and Voluntary Euthanasia. In The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy: A Forum for Bioethics and Philosophy of Medicine (Vol. 46, No. 4, pp. 431-450). US: Oxford University Press.

Neale, A. (2022). Application of virtue ethics to human life and death. Think21(60), 105-108.

Pesut, B., Greig, M., Thorne, S., Storch, J., Burgess, M., Tishelman, C., … & Janke, R. (2020). Nursing and euthanasia: A narrative review of the nursing ethics literature. Nursing ethics27(1), 152-167.

Tachibana, K. (2020). Virtue ethics and the value of saving humanity. In Human Enhancements for Space Missions (pp. 169-181). Springer, Cham.

Thames, B. (2018). How should one live? Introduction to ethics and moral reasoning (3rd ed.). San Diego, CA: Bridgepoint Education.

Van Zyl, L. (2018). Virtue ethics: A contemporary introduction. Routledge.

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