Kant and Euthanasia Essay
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According to the Human Society of the United States, 2. 7 million animals are euthanized each year, yet human assisted euthanasia is not even legal in 46 states. Not only do animals not have to give consent to their deaths but it is legal in every single state. Even though the basis of Kantian ethics and Catholicism lie hundreds of years apart, they are almost identical when it comes to their views on some moral issues. In regards to euthanasia, Kant and Catholicism have different reasons, yet their views are the same in that they say euthanasia is wrong.
To find whether or not Kant and Catholics agree or disagree, there must first be a consensus on whether euthanasia is the same as killing someone. As defined by Webster’s dictionary, to kill is to cause the death. Voluntary euthanasia, which is the only type that is present in the United States, must fit five characteristics in order for it to be legal. First, the patient must be suffering from a deadly illness.
Second, the disease must be so developed that a cure for the said disease would not increase the chance of life.
Furthermore, if the deathly ill person has unparalleled pain and even if saved, he or she would need life support for the remaining time. Moreover, and probably most importantly the person must wish and want to die. Finally, the person must not have the strength to kill themselves on their own. When these questions are cleared, the doctor may then give a series of drugs that first but the patient in a coma and then a painless death. The doctor is clearly causing the death of the patient; therefore, no matter how society looks at it, by definition, euthanasia is indeed an act of killing.
No matter the circumstances surrounding the action, in the eyes of the Catholic Church, killing is always wrong. This matter can be settled with a literal translation and reading of the Bible. In Exodus Chapter 21 verse 23 it states, “You are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. ” As anyone can see, the Catholics during the time that the bible was written agree that killing is wrong and has the gravest of consequences.
Still today, Catholics share the same beliefs as it states in the Catechism “Whatever its motives and means, direct euthanasia consists in putting an end to the lives of handicapped, sick, or dying persons. It is morally unacceptable. ” This is morally unacceptable because an act such as this goes against, “the dignity of the human person and to the respect due to the living God, his Creator” (CCC 2277). From these citations of the Catechism, Catholics can see that God does not give permission to use euthanasia not only because human dignity is lost, but also because it is a vice against the being who created the life itself.
Kant, like Catholics would agree that no one should ever be killed strictly because killing is wrong. Kant would refer to the categorical imperatives when making his decision. “His first formulation of categorical imperative talks about man being a rational being; since he is a rational being, he has no right to formulate such a maxim like “if I am in a terrible condition, I have the right to take my life or reserve the right to the doctor or my family members”” (Odianosen 9). When talking about Kant, Odianosen clearly agrees and supports that the categorical imperatives point in the direction away from any sort of euthanasia.
In this quote that Odianosen uses, he is stating that the rational part of humans shall not call for something as ridicules as euthanasia. Of course Catholics and Kant believe in stopping human euthanasia, but Kant’s peculiar reasoning behind this is quite different from a Catholic’s thought of not disrespecting God’s holy creations. In An Introduction to Catholic Ethics by Longtin and Peach, thoroughly explain that in Kantian ethics, one must follow the moral law for the sake of the moral law itself.
This means that one must not use euthanasia not because it may be considered murder and not because it might disrespect God, but because euthanasia in itself is unethical. Since murder is also a universal law, people cannot simply use someone as a means to an end meaning that is euthanasia is wanted mainly because insurance money is given out more quickly. Indeed, although their reasoning may be different, overall Catholics and Kant would agree. During the Age of Enlightenment, Kant walked the earth and thought of what is right, and what is truly wrong.
The first Catholics were born over one thousand years prior, and they created a doctrine of ethics in which some are still agreed upon today. Both agree, no matter how different their backgrounds were, that taking a life even if that life is suffering is never okay; however between the categorical imperative and God’s will, their reasons for doing so are worlds apart. In extensively researching this topic, and having my own opinions, I would have to disagree with both of them. I think that taking a life in these situations is the humane option for several reasons.
Firstly, if a human being is undergoing large amounts of pain and will clearly end in imminent death, there is no use for him or her to go through such a stressful time if there is a quick and painless option. In addition, euthanasia may be the more economically sound option. Often, medical bill can be extremely expensive if great medical insurance is not possessed, and keeping that person alive for a small amount of time would put the entire family in a deep and maybe never ending economic plunder. Finally, and usually most importantly, it gives the family a sense of closer.
No one wants to worry if their best friend, or favorite family will die today, tomorrow, next Friday, or in two months from now. Euthanasia provides the entire family to list all of their final goodbyes, stories, and regrets. Without a doubt, euthanasia is a clearly morally right in my mind even though many such as Kant and Catholics would argue otherwise. Works Cited “Common Questions about Animal Shelters : The Humane Society of the United States. ” RSS. Humane Society of the United States, 3 May 2013. Web. 03 Dec. 2013. Longtin, Lucien F. , and Andrew J. Peach. An Introduction to Catholic Ethics. Washington, D. C.: National Catholic Educational Association, 2003. Print.
New American Bible. New York: American Bible Society, 2010. Print. Odianosen, Peter. Immanuel Kant’s Moral Theory as a Response to Euthanasia. N. p. : University of Ibadan, n. d. Academia. edu. Web. 1 Dec. 2013. Patterson, R. F. New Webster’s Dictionary. Plantation, FL: Paradise, 1997. Print. Paul II, Pope John. Catechism of the Catholic Church. Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2000. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Web. 2 Dec. 2013. Young, Robert. “Voluntary Euthanasia. ” Stanford University. Stanford University, 18 Apr. 1996. Web. 03 Dec. 2013.