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Would the following be a deontological take on euthanasia? Euthanasia is an example of...

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perriwinkle23 | Student, College Freshman | eNoter

Posted June 23, 2013 at 5:14 AM via web

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Would the following be a deontological take on euthanasia?

Euthanasia is an example of a constitutional right because it is a case where the person is exercising their right to the pursuit of happiness and they should be able to choose whether to live or die?

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted June 23, 2013 at 6:14 AM (Answer #1)

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The argument given here is a deontological argument. 

Deontological arguments can be contrasted with consequentialist arguments.  Each of them goes with a certain stance on how to determine if something is moral or ethical.  From a consequentialist point of view, the ethics of an action are determined by its effects or its consequences.  If an action has good consequences, it is an ethically good action.  The argument that you have given here does not say anything about the consequences of the euthanasia.  Therefore, it is not a consequentialist argument.

A deontological argument is based on rules.  In this view, an action is good if it follows the rules.  The results do not matter.  All that matters is whether it follows rules.  These rules can be actual laws (like the Constitution), but they can also be moral laws.  In the argument you have given, you appeal to the Constitution, though you should be aware that the idea of “pursuit of happiness” comes from the Declaration of Independence and not from the Constitution.  You also appeal to some idea of natural law when you say that a person “should be able to choose whether they live or die.”  These are both rules.  Your argument is that euthanasia is consistent with these rules and is therefore ethical.  This is a deontological argument.


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perriwinkle23 | Student , College Freshman | eNoter

Posted July 11, 2013 at 8:30 PM (Reply #1)

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Thank you for the confirmation and for pointing out that I was using the Constitution in error. I appreciate your help.

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