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Argument Analysis of the Issue of Euthanasia Essay

1.If a right creates a net benefit to society and is not morally incorrect, then it should be made legal. (IM; Oracle: Common Knowledge)

2.Voluntary euthanasia refers to a doctor’s right to kill a terminally ill patient to his/her request. (IM; Oracle: definition from www.euthanasia.com)

3.If voluntary euthanasia is not a moral transgression and euthanasia creates a net benefit on society, then present legal prohibitions against voluntary euthanasia ought to be lifted. (LI from 1,2)

4.It is considered a moral duty to kill a pet that is suffering due to incurable illness. (IM; Oracle: Common Knowledge)

5.If it is a moral duty to relieve a suffering pet with incurable illness from its’ suffering by killing it, performing euthanasia on willing humans that are terminally ill cannot be a moral transgression. (IM; Oracle: tacit knowledge)

6.Performing euthanasia on willing humans that are terminally ill is not a moral transgression. (LI from 4,5)

7.Terminally ill patients use scarce medical resources. (IM; Oracle: Common Knowledge)

8.Euthanasia would increase the number of terminally ill patients that would willingly die. (IM; Oracle: Common Knowledge)

9.Patients stop using medical resources once they die. (IM; Oracle: Common Knowledge)

10.Euthanasia would create an increase in scarce medical resources not used by terminally ill patients. (LI from 7,8,9)

11.Other patients will use the scarce medical resources that are not being used by terminally ill patients. (IM; Oracle: Tacit Knowledge)

12.Euthanasia would thus create an increase in scarce medical resources that will be used by patients that are not terminally ill. (LI from 10,11)

13.Patients that are not terminally ill benefit from medical resources more than terminally ill patients. (IM; Oracle: Common Knowledge)

14.Scarce resources cause the largest benefit to society when used by those people that can benefit most from them. (IM; Oracle: Mankiw, Principles of Microeconomics)

15.Euthanasia would create a net benefit to society because of its allocation of scarce medical resources. (LI from 12,13,14)

16.Present legal prohibitions against voluntary euthanasia ought to be lifted. (UC and LI from 3,6,15)

Argument Evaluation of Original Argument

“Euthanasia is sure to become an issue of increasing importance as our population ages and the leading causes of death become long term debilitating illness rather than accidents or infectious disease. Too often the debate is clouded by emotion and irrational thought. However, turning one’s attention to the following points may serve to clarify the situation.”

The first few sentences in the speaker’s argument serve as an introduction to the topic. The first to statements establish the importance of the issue. While these two sentences are no directly part of the argument, the speaker has already made an error. The speaker states that “the leading causes of death become long term debilitating illness rather than accidents or infectious disease,” however the leading cause of death is already a long term debilitating illness (namely cardiovascular disease).

This of course suggests that the speaker has unreliable information and will make his/her argument less trustworthy. The remaining to sentences serve to exclude any irrational topics from being introduced into the argument criticism. This is a very wise move strategically since it is indeed true that many times this subject is clouded by speak of God and prejudice against elderly. While the speaker attempts to avoid discussing such issues, he/she does mention morality.

“We consider it a duty, not a moral transgression, to end the life of a suffering pet. Why do we balk at providing the same service to willing humans?”

The speaker tries to establish that moral transgression is not in question so that it is not brought up in an argument criticism. A pet cannot request euthanasia. A pet’s owner will have the pet killed if the pet has an incurable illness which will cause unbearable suffering. Humans on the other hand can request euthanasia. If they cannot request euthanasia their surrogate can. Thus we must speak of voluntary euthanasia when concerning humans. The speaker is making a link between the morality of performing euthanasia on pets and the morality of performing euthanasia on humans. This link, represented in statement 3, is an opinion about what is moral and thus cannot be verified with a strong source. Nonetheless, it is a valid stance on morality and the speaker chose to use this link in his/her argument

“Is it not crueler to condemn these individuals to weeks, perhaps even months, of suffering?

I did not include this statement in my argument reconstruction since I believe it is very weak and is a point that will be criticized greatly. No patient is being condemned to suffering. I will return to this subject in my own argument

Besides, it is a greater injustice to squander precious medical resources on the terminally ill when so many others, particularly infants, could benefit from them instead; and frequently this is the only alternative to euthanasia.

This argument is actually quite weak. Rarely are medical treatments rival. One person’s use of a treatment usually does not affect the use of others. In the case where the medical resources are indeed rival, (eg. organs etc) the speaker himself/herself says that frequently the younger patients or those that will benefit most from the treatment are given the scarce medical resources. The argument about scarce medical resources can be used, however the speaker should not mention: “frequently this is the only alternative to euthanasia.”

When these points are considered, it becomes clear that the present legal prohibitions against euthanasia ought to be lifted.

This statement is the speaker’s ultimate conclusion. It is not necessary to reestablish the validity of the argument with the statement “it becomes clear that.” Furthermore, the preposition “when these points are considered” should be excluded from the sentence as it allows us to suspect that there are other points that should be considered. In terms of strategic excellence, the argument should only contain information relevant to the inquirer’s inquiry. No information that does not aid in reaching the ultimate conclusion should be present unless absolutely necessary. Lastly, there are many kinds of euthanasia. The speaker must specify that he/she is considering one specific meaning.

Voluntary euthanasia refers to the killing of a patient that gives consent to be killed. There are problems with determining what is really voluntary. We must assume that the patient is capable of requesting euthanasia. Otherwise, the patient’s surrogate must request euthanasia. The doctor cannot decide alone that a patient should be killed. Many times however (according to statistics from Holland where euthanasia is currently legal) a doctor may take his/her own initiative and then lie about the cause of the patient’s death, attributing death to natural causes. For the purposes of argument, let us assume that voluntary euthanasia will be practiced correctly and assess whether the prohibitions against voluntary euthanasia ought to be lifted.

General Evaluation:

As is evident from my argument reconstruction, the inquirer’s written argument lacks many links. Most importantly the inquirer fails to establish that his/her conclusion is based on a conjunction of two different claims (actually three, but I excluded the claim that patients are being condemned to suffering for informative correctness purposes). It is extremely important to establish what statements the conclusion is based on. Another major error is the use of wrong information. While the wrong information is not necessary for the establishment of the inquirer’s conclusion, the inquirer still suggests unreliability with his first two introductory statements. Furthermore, the inquirer included the claim that patients are being condemned to suffering. I excluded this statement completely as it is incorrect. I will discuss this subject in my own argument. Lastly, the argument is not set up in an organized manner. The lines of thought are not linear.

Rather, the inquirer proceeds in multiple directions failing to relate his conclusion to each point put forth. The inquirer states that his conclusion is clear even though he/she actual failed to show the relation between the left side moves and the conclusion by not establishing that the conclusion is based on a conjunction of two different claims. The inquirer is usually definitorily correct. Occasionally, he/she makes errors. For example, the inquirer fails to define what is meant by euthanasia. It is a simple matter of vocabulary, yet the intended definition of the word can change the argument in many ways. There are many criticisms of euthanasia related to involuntary euthanasia. The inquirer should avoid these by specifying he/she is considering only voluntary euthanasia.

The inquirer portrays some wise strategic moves in his/her first few statements. The inquirer first establishes the importance of the subject by implying that as the population mortality age increases more and more patients will be considering euthanasia. While this was a wise strategic move, I did not include it as it was not necessary to establish the conclusions validity. This statement simply served as an introduction to a written argument. The inquirer also attempts to avoid any criticism related to irrational concepts (such as God) by stating that these ideas simply cloud the subject. This was also a wise strategic move.

As discussed previously, the manner in which the ultimate conclusion is stated is quite weak. It is unnecessary to draw attention to the possibility of other points being relevant to the subject. In fact, this provokes the reader to search for other subjects that have not been considered and will contradict the inquirer’s conclusion. He/she also uses a danger signal in the ultimate conclusion. The inquirer says “it should be clear that,” however the inquirer never establishes the relation between the mentioned points and the ultimate conclusion. This phrase suggests that the inquirer may actually draw no connection at all.

Lastly, the argument is valid. Rectifying some mistakes and adding some moves that were assumed obvious the table now does close and there are no other open paths. Thus the argument is complete and the conclusion true, assuming all IM’s and LI’s are truth preserving.

My Argument

A right that is not necessary (has no use) and can lead to tremendous abuse, exploitation and erosion of care for the most vulnerable people among us should not be legalized.

As can be seen from statistics from countries that have made voluntary euthanasia legal, there are many complications related to the right not being implemented efficiently. Many doctors may take advantage of the right, many euthanasia’s are performed on people who did not even request euthanasia with reasons such as “It was too much of a burden for the family” or “the patients illness was terminal.” Evidently, it is not so clear what “voluntary” or “terminal” mean, and depending on the doctor’s judgment the same patient may be treated differently.

Furthermore, doctors can suggest euthanasia to patients that have not even considered it. The psychological stress on a suffering patient is so great that they may be easily influenced by doctors or family members to request the procedure. Laws against euthanasia are in place to prevent abuse and to protect people from unscrupulous doctors and others.

Secondly, there is no use to the right. Prohibitions against euthanasia are not intended to make patients suffer. No one is being condemned to suffering. If a patient is capable of requesting euthanasia they are also capable of committing suicide. People do have the power to commit suicide. If the patient does not have the means to commit suicide, a prescription of lethal drugs may be given to the patients but this is no longer considered euthanasia, but rather assisted suicide (which I am in favor of even though for moral reasons I personally disagree with suicide). Euthanasia refers to the killing of the patient directly by the doctor (either by lethal injection or by removal from necessary medical treatment). The need for assisted suicide is a completely different subject and should not be introduced into an argument about euthanasia. If the patient is not capable of requesting euthanasia then a court of law will allocate a surrogate to that patient which can make decisions for the patient.

If the patient is not capable of requesting euthanasia then the patient may not be able to commit suicide without assistance. But if the patient is in such a condition, they must be in vital need of medical treatment (either machines or drugs). A lot of people think that euthanasia is needed so patients won’t be forced to remain alive by being “hooked up” to machines. But the law already permits patients or their surrogates to withhold or withdraw unwanted medical treatment even if that increases the likelihood that the patient will die. Thus, no one needs to be hooked up to machines against their will. Neither the law nor medical ethics requires that “everything be done” to keep a person alive. Insistence, against the patient’s wishes, that death be postponed by every means available is contrary to law and practice and is also cruel and inhumane. Thus even a patient that cannot commit suicide can kill himself/herself by removal from treatment.

Euthanasia is not necessary and can lead to tremendous abuse, exploitation and erosion of care for the most vulnerable people among us. Prohibitions against euthanasia should not be lifted.

(Assisted suicide is when someone provides an individual with the information, guidance, and means to take his or her own life. When a doctor helps another person to kill themselves it is called “physician assisted suicide.” In my opinion, physician assisted suicide should be allowed as long as it is merely assistance and is practiced lawfully. Measures should be taken to ensure it is practiced lawfully. Each doctor should be forced to send in a consent form to some organization first. The consent form should contain the patient’s or the surrogate’s signature (if the patient is incapable of signing or requesting). In this way there will be less abuse of the right.)

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