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 DE RAMOS Questions for the Third Exam

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jimenez



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PostSubject: DE RAMOS Questions for the Third Exam   Sun Mar 29, 2009 11:44 pm

De Ramos
De Ramos
1. In those cases where Jack Kevorkian performed assisted euthanasia on patients confirmed to be terminally ill and who were fully autonomous in seeking euthanasia, was Jack Kevorkian's action morally excusable? Why or why not.

2. After careful considerations of the various ethical theories/views we discussed, what “personal moral system or code” can you come up with and which you can adopt? Be sure to talk about the values, precepts/ideas, and other elements that should comprise this “personal moral system or code”. Include your conception of freedom and accountability in this given moral system and your view of what it means to be a moral individual.
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De Ramos



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PostSubject: Final Examination   Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:34 pm

1. In those cases where Jack Kevorkian performed assisted euthanasia on patients confirmed to be terminally ill and who were fully autonomous in seeking euthanasia, was Jack Kevorkian's action morally excusable? Why or why not.

If we have the right to live, then we also have the “right to die”- this is a statement that is positively rendered by Dr. Death himself- Jack Kevorkian. Kevorkian kept on "helping people," and endless parades of people who believe their opinions matter wasted oxygen debating the morality of the whole thing.

Let me first take the case of those people who were fully autonomous in seeking euthanasia. One of the basic principles of bioethics is that individuals should be treated as autonomous agents. Taking Immanual Kant’s definition or description of “man”, it said that being autonomous is parallel to being rational, self-conscious, and being capable of freedom and self-determination. In addition to this bioethics would say that being autonomous is apparently seen and must be observed for having sound mind, well-informed free and enlightened choice/decision, informed consent. In the case of Jack Kevorkian, we must incorporate in the scenario the concept of “respect for autonomy” (combined notions from bioethics and Kantian philosophy): whereby those who are capable of deliberation (concept taken from BIOETHICS) about their personal choices should be treated with respect for their capacity for self-determination (definition of man according to Kant). In Kevorkian’s original method/procedures: the doctor didn’t actually kill the patient (one major hot point in the euthanasia debate); the doctor simply enabled the patient to do the job, “assistance” as what others put it into a more comprehensive term. In this case, Kevorkian’s action is morally excusable. Aside from the point taken from the concept of “autonomy” and “respect for person”, existentialists would say that we are free to choose. Choice is a definition of an existence in the world, towards an object outside of itself. Freedom is a basic human condition. “The moment you are born, you are old enough to die”- we are the one responsible on making our own path, and being a rational, self-conscious individuals- and have decided to die- it is our right to practice such. We always have a choice. Existentialism does not stand for any kind of determinism except the one that determines our individual facts, existence, and destiny (if death is the natural end of all).

Between 1990 and 1998, Kevorkian assisted in the deaths of nearly 100 terminally ill people. On the other case where patients were confirmed to be terminally ill, the second principle of bioethics is to be applied in analysis. It is said that persons with diminished autonomy are entitled to protection: those who are dependent or vulnerable be afforded security against harm and abuse, like the case of individuals in a state of coma or PVS. This case is more complicated for it faces several dilemmas. First are the bipolar notions of right to health as a basic right and right to health care which is considered as a prerogative. The second one involves the risks to be taken upon keeping the patient alive even he/she is of that state, this deals on whether the individual should suffer lots of things before it is to be determined if he/she could still continue the “life” he have. The third and one of the most debatable is the concept of life: sanctity of life vs. quality of life and the contestation between being fully alive and merely living. If the patient could still make conscious opinions with regards to his situation (which is being terminally ill), it is morally permissible for that individual to determine what should be done. If the individual made the decision to end his existence for being terminally ill, it is morally acceptable. The individual may perceive his preservation of life, despite the fact that he has a terminal disease, as “prolonging the agony”. Like in the case of Kevorkian: If the individual cannot make own decisions, then it is a good thing to consolidate the opinion of all possible persons that can come up with sets of rational options and decide towards the best among that options.

Death is a natural phenomenon common to all of us. If a person believe that he has still that space in this world to actuate himself on a continuous journey of life (Alasdair McIntyre’s Life as a Narrative Quest) then he is free to do so. But with someone who sees life as a matter of “being born-then-die”, we should respect their moral perceptions on what is to be done in his own facticity (existence as is), besides, dying is not a crime.
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2. After careful considerations of the various ethical theories/views we discussed, what “personal moral system or code” can you come up with and which you can adopt? Be sure to talk about the values, precepts/ideas, and other elements that should comprise this “personal moral system or code”. Include your conception of freedom and accountability in this given moral system and your view of what it means to be a moral individual.

In answering this question, I prefer to consult and take excerpts from the different theories and principles of morality we discussed the whole semester.

“What it means to be moral” for me is being an individual capable of determining his freedom and autonomy (existentialism), taking into considerations all the responsibilities (or accountability; existentialism) incorporated in that certain “freedom”, acting in a way that he knows how to deal with the way the action is done according to his niche/duty (Kantian philosophy) and also by weighing the probable consequences of the action (Utilitarianism) for the good of himself and the good of many or all. It is inevitable for most human beings to be subjective and relative (ethical subjectivism & relativism), but one must also act based on concrete situations (empiricism). Having a “God” (divine command theory) doesn’t necessarily mean that what you will do should always be based on the religious teachings of the church. It is a good thing that you have that “oneness” (and not merely obeying Him) with God, for that particular spiritual relationship guides an individual towards the path he chose to take. We have natural tendencies (natural law theory): from the process of translating potentiality to actuality (according to Aristotle); to preserve life, socialize, attain knowledge, and procreate (according to St. Thomas Aquinas); and the continuous narration of our own existence (Alasdair McIntyre’s Life as a Narrative Quest) that is driven and piloted by us and steered up by the moral virtues and values. All we have to do is learn how to be flexible, on how to practice self-determination and autonomy with respect to the moral values which we know are right, appropriate and universally accepted.

Whether you base your morality on a principle-based ethics (i.e. Kantian, Divine command, etc.) or to alternatives like the postmodernist perception of morality, it is good to think that you must live life to the fullest. The moment you are born, you are old enough to die. An individual has one shot, one peculiar opportunity to live on this planet- why not give it your best and make it colorful, meaningful, fruitful, and sensible.
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