Essay 1 on Euthanasia
The subject of euthanasia, passive or otherwise, brings up controversial feelings. Passive euthanasia, or the letting nature take its course approach with no extraordinary measures taken to preserve life, is commonly accepted with minimal outrage. Generally, only extremists take a stance against this practice. Active euthanasia however strikes a chord within people that put us at odds not only with each other but within ourselves as well. It is important to understand that active euthanasia in this essay is characterized by the intentional act of ending your own or someone else’s life when terminal illness presents itself. I myself believe that the practice of active euthanasia should be made available but there is much work to be done on defining when it is appropriate. J. Gay-Williams spoke against active euthanasia in his article titled “The Wrongfulness of Euthanasia”. The title alone leaves little guesswork as far as what his beliefs are. He claims an understanding of why we lean towards more acceptance of this practice but remains convinced that our beliefs are misplaced for three very distinct, compelling yet simple reasons. In my essay, I will discuss and critique his first two lines of logic; 1) the argument from nature and 2) the argument from self-interest. Gay-Williams first argument is that active euthanasia flies in the face of human nature itself. All animals, human or otherwise, were created with a will to survive. There is even a particular fight or flight mechanism that drives us to rise to the occasion of a challenge or to evade and protect one’s self. Even down to the core of biological processes, our bodies, without reason or logic, know to take measures to preserve and continue. As illustrated in the example posed by Gay-Williams, when you cut yourself, your body knows to elicit a response that generates immediate healing measures to preserve life. (Gay-Williams, pg. 717) Beyond physical...
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