Without a doubt, there are forces that exist within the realms of right and wrong. This understanding of what right and wrong is is the back bone of moral philosophy, and its fundamental aim to decipher whether or not our actions lie on either side of these realms. Immanuel Kant states that these are not the only facets of morality (Lee). We must also further ask ourselves “what we ought to do,” in our case, to follow the the good will. In question, I debate whether euthanasia is an act of true good will to end suffering or if it is wrong to end a life in any circumstance.
To be better moral and ethical beings, and to pursue what the philosophers call “the higher good,” we must take upon ourselves to end suffering in the face of imminent death, despite our prior connections to the life or personal beliefs. First and foremost, before addressing any claims as to what a moral action is, we must first have a basic understanding of what exactly constitutes a moral and an immoral action. In Immanuel Kant’s groundwork in morals, it states that an action can only be deemed moral if and only if devoid of all ulterior motive (Guthrie).
With this said, we can safely say, killing anyone loved or otherwise, for any sort of gain is immoral, and therefore lacks virtue and the good will. More often than not, we will also come to a conclusion that we must choose life; we care too much about the ones we love to see them leave us, or even face the inevitability of death that will come soon after the immense suffering. Though as noble as saving a life may seem, this is not moral. As Kant’s First Categorical Imperative states, never treat someone as a means to an end, rather only as a means to an end to themselves.
The maxims that drive our actions, in the endeavor to sustain the life of a suffering person, though however noble our intentions may be, are still only hypothetical imperatives that cater to our own selfish need to keep the lives that we cherish. It can also be argued that ending a life to soothe the pains of seeing the ones we love suffer is also immoral. Wouldn’t putting someone down so as that we wouldn’t have to endure the pain of watching their suffering be treating them as a means to an end? This too is only for our own philanthropic need to end our own woes, therefore is also considered, by the standards of Kant: immoral.
There are further quandaries in the topic of euthanasia, than just to do or not to do. We must always remember that to be ethical and moral beings as stated in the metaphysics of morality, we must ask ourselves “what we ought to do” (Guthrie). This brings us to a near moral impossibility, where we must create answers and actions that beg sui generis. In the case of euthanasia, as moral and ethical creatures we ought to act against suffering, not because we feel our love ones suffer but to act upon categorical imperatives to end suffering for the sake of ending suffering.
We must not base our actions off the possible consequences of not allowing the being to die peacefully, but by the duty we have to end suffering. In the metaphysics of morals, it is believed that the good will is ambiguous despite its intentions. Qualities of character that are considered to be good do not ensure morality, despite its intentions (Guyer). With this said we must then overlook all emotions involved and only think about the situation in terms of duty. If this is so, in the case of euthanasia, should we not then forgo all emotional ties and venture south for more moral answers?
The preservation of life holds many connections to human wants, when, if morality is the aim, principals rather than wants should be our maxims. Relying on principals to drive our actions ensures that we do what we have to do not because we want to but because what we do is our duty (therefore keeping virtue and the good will “untainted”). But I digress an acknowledge that this concept of pure duty as an imperative is almost impossible to achieve. Every observable action can be seen as conformity for the sake of conformity and/or for some sort of personal gain (Guthrie).
But, as our predecessors before us stated, pure moral maxims do exist, and believing in them is a step to morality. This is not unlike the notion of God; we have no physical basis of what God is, as we don’t have physical notions of what pure moral intentions are, but what we do have are priors to what they are. The benefit of using Kant’s groundwork is that you get the action of good will without consequential thinking of the benefit or harm that may come from it. A moral action is that of virtue, a moral duty carried out from the good will.
Therefore euthanasia is moral, for our duty and motive is to end suffering for the sake of ending suffering. It is the underlying intention which decides whether our action is moral or not. The consequence only decides how beneficial our action was. As moral and ethical creatures we ought to act against suffering, not because we feel the emotional connection of watching someone you know suffer but to act upon categorical imperatives to end suffering for the sake of ending suffering. We must not end someone lse’s suffering to end our own pain or discomfort, but to end their suffering when all other choice besides death no longer exist for them. Works Cited “Immanuel Kant. ” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Ed. P. Guyer and A. Wood. N. p. , 20 May 2010. Web. 15 Oct. 2012. . Guthrie, Shandon L. “Immanuel Kant and the Categorical Imperative. ” Immanuel Kant and the Categorical Imperative. N. p. , 03 Nov. 2011. Web. 15 Oct. 2012. . Lee, Harrison. “Kant – Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. ” Kant – Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals. N. p. , 13 May 2011. Web. 15 Oct. 2012. .
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