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Describe the moral difference between active and passive euthanasia.

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kerifoconnor | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 19, 2012 at 5:37 PM via web

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Describe the moral difference between active and passive euthanasia.

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pohnpei397 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 19, 2012 at 5:44 PM (Answer #1)

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The major moral difference between active and passive euthanasia is the difference between committing an action and neglecting to commit an action.  Some would argue that this is an important difference.

In active euthanasia, a doctor or other person must act to end the person’s life.  Drugs must typically be administered.  The person would live but for the doctor’s action.  By contrast, in passive euthanasia, the person dies because the doctor does not act.  The person would only live if the doctor intervened.

The moral difference here, one could argue, is that in one case the doctor is taking an action and in the other, the doctor is simply refraining from acting. We have a moral duty not to take actions that would kill others.  But it is less clear that we have a moral duty to take actions to prevent a natural death.

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kerifoconnor | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Honors

Posted October 19, 2012 at 6:27 PM (Answer #2)

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Yes but if it were the case of someone fall off a cliff. Is there a difference in not helping the person you could have easily helped from falling off but instead stood right next to them and watched them fall and pushing the person off? 

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