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This paper is an analysis of the theory of moral rationalism. The analysis explores how this theory contributes to the debate about euthanasia. This theory holds that individuals’ actions should always be guided by reason. For instance, it is morally wrong to stop somebody without a good reason. Honesty is the general rule, but it is subject to many exceptions given that people live in a pragmatic society. Euthanasia is a controversial topic as it entails several moral dilemmas that demand careful consideration due to its immediate and future consequences. Based on the aforementioned concept, this paper adopts the theory of moral rationalism to develop the direction of arguments. This paper will argue that based on reason and the state of medical advancement in contemporary times, there is no need for mercy killing, and thus euthanasia should not be tolerated.
Moral rationalist theories argue that human beings’ behavior is guided by reason. Also, these theories, which are also commonly referred to as ethical rationalism, are based on the practical reason that entails determining how to achieve one’s objectives. Moreover, the theories dictate the objectives that should be prioritized. In this perspective, immoral actions should not be mistaken as contradicting beliefs, but a conflict in the will. This assertion explains why some people will take opposing choices since practical reasoning can be objective as well as universal. Human behavior largely comes from the moral rational choices that human beings make in life. This theory addresses the question of why human beings should be moral. When solving various ethical issues, it can be shown that morally rational behavior leads to ethical deportment during practice. For example in the case of euthanasia, medical practitioners have to act morally because it is simply out of reason that they have to act so. Human beings rely on the available evidence to generate beliefs about life and goals that should be attained, and thus the use of reason leads to success in these objectives. This theory has direct relevance to ethical issues; hence, it is necessary to examine how reason is applicable in solving some of the persisting debates on ethical dilemmas.
Euthanasia or mercy killing is a situation where someone is terminally ill with the disease and s/he can determine his/her fate either voluntarily or via an accomplice. The process of mercy killing takes various forms such as administering lethal injections, ending treatment, or isolation. Euthanasia is of different kinds, which include voluntary euthanasia, whereby the procedure is advanced with the consent and expressed desire of the victim. Second is non-voluntary euthanasia whereby the practice is conducted when the victim is incapacitated to make a decision or s/he needs to be protected from him/herself. Last is the involuntary euthanasia when the procedure is done against the will of the victim. Deliberate advancement of a patient’s death by whichever form has no justifiable benefit to that person. A let live decision should be the debate since medical technology has greatly advanced and research is still ongoing to find cures for the terminal diseases. Although the doctors’ code of ethics does not support mercy killing, it remains a controversy, which no doctor has shown the ability to do away with in practice. Moral contradiction develops when people fail to understand that patients calling for mercy killing are simply asking for help, which can be granted through counseling or advanced treatment.
Moral rationalist perspective regarding euthanasia
In the modern world, people face various circumstances that influence their natural functioning, thus making them act irrationally at times. In many cases, people encounter systematic biases that cause errors in reasoning, which means that humans are not always morally rational. This assertion explains why rationality becomes very vital and unavoidable when someone decides to act morally upright. If one’s objective is to do well, the best way to achieving that is through reason as well as facts to establish what works well concerning humanitarianism. This assertion suggests that moral rationalists disagree with mercy killing since effective reasoning should try to set aside all biases and offer a solution that gives the best to human life. This aspect means that decisions that individuals make in life should only target to eliminate suffering by providing cures and giving hope to those who are terminally ill. Encouraging mercy killing will offer no solution to future similar cases, but insisting on life motivates researchers to work hard because they must meet.
Individuals weigh the value of certain choices based on how they affect their life, families, and everybody in the world. Even if higher authorities initiate rules that need to be followed, the human response will still rely on reason based on the needs of humanity. In this case, rationalists will argue that it is not moral to kill a person even when s/he is terminally ill not only because this person has the right to life, but also because medication is determined to better the human condition and make death as humane as possible. Ethical decisions should always be based on protecting human life rather than the alleged needs and motives of certain entities or powers. For example, supporters of euthanasia argue that it is necessary because it saves resources and frees up hospital space. If terminally ill patients voluntarily express the desire for mercy killing, it does not necessarily mean that they want to die. It depends on how the people responsible for reason and makes decisions act. Crying for mercy killing is essentially a call for counseling or advanced treatment. As moral beings, nobody should take to his/her responsibility to take the life of which s/he did not provide in the first place. Simply because authorities want to free beds for other patients purported to show the desire to live is not enough reason to let anyone die. Furthermore, these patients can be treated at home at the same time allowing researchers to work miracles and possibly determine the cure for such diseases. To describe the treatment for the terminally ill as a waste of precious medical resources amounts to immorality.
Human beings practice their moral ethics within a practical and conflicting world rather than a utopian state. In medical practice, moral dilemmas often arise and making rational choices becomes complex albeit necessary. Moral situations such as euthanasia require a keen examination of immediate and future implications whilst considering the possible alternatives. Seeking a life that enhances the common good has never been easy neither establishing the desirable choices. Thus, when people show concern to a rationalized approach like protecting life, they are demonstrating their commitment to do well despite what it takes in such a complex world. For instance, those who support voluntary euthanasia argue that every individual has a right to choose and all should respect that choice. Every adult can make own decisions on life and death. However, such rights deny people the opportunity to choose for others. If mercy killing is legalized, then people who see themselves as victims will feel targeted by this legislation and end up taking options that they would have not wished to take. If a terminally ill person undergoes a treatment that costs huge amounts of money for the family or the government, s/he will feel that s/he is a burden, and thus s/he may end up choosing euthanasia. As moral beings, people should not be allowed to have such an option because it compromises the freedom of choice for the victim.
Moral rationalists reckon the value of human reason and with the experience of the benefits of human creativity in the science of medicine, it is necessary to take part in protecting life by embracing the moral influence of new technologies. This assertion implies that it is better to fight through the pain and give modern medicine technology a chance to work its miracles and probably a cure might be discovered. Approaching life from a moral perspective entails using reason and evidence to meet the needs of everyone. Allowing voluntary euthanasia gives doctors unnecessary powers and this aspect can be an insurmountable challenge to ethical matters when doctors choose to ignore ethical obligations. Terminally ill people are as well guided by reason and if they are compelled to feel guilt, they will choose death over life. However, it should be in the best interest of all humanity to prohibit any form of euthanasia.