Exploring Assisted Suicide; through the ethical frameworks of Act Utilitarianism and Kant’s Ethics
Uploaded by kat_112 on Jul 14, 2012
There is nothing more argued, explored and discussed in ethics than the value placed on human life. By using case study two this case study analysis will explore how two very different ethical frameworks of Act Utilitarianism and Kant’s Ethics offer two unique ways of understanding and responding to the assisted death of Ms Griffith by Mr Mathers. Was it an act of selfless love or murder? To have a greater understanding of this question posed this analysis will provide a description and explanation of the two theoretical frameworks of Act Utilitarianism and Kant’s Ethics, discuss the case study using Act Utilitarianism and Kant’s Ethics understandings, responses and limitations, and finally the implications of using these two theoretical frameworks on the people involved and the broader community.
Utilitarianism is a form of consequentialism meaning acting in ways that bring about good consequences (Thiroux & Krasemann 2009). Expanding on this, Utilitarian’s believe that an act should bring about the greatest good for all involved, even if bad things happen to a minority for the overall happiness of the majority (Bykvist 2010). And finally an Act Utilitarian believes that to achieve the greatest good for all involved an individual must assess each different situation and weigh up the good and bad consequences of an act. Therefore there are no absolutes for an Act Utilitarian because every situation and person is different (Thiroux & Krasemann 2009; Bykvist 2010).
Kant’s Ethics is a form of non-consequentialist ethics, which means that unlike consequentialism, non-consequentialist believe that consequences do not enter into judging whether an act or person is moral or otherwise (Thiroux & Krasemann 2009). Kant’s Ethics also falls into the rule-non-consequentialism category meaning simply that there are always rules that are or can be the basis for morality and again that consequences play no part in said morality (Thiroux & Krasemann 2009). Kant had many principles but the main ideas include, the good will, the categorical imperative or the universalising of rules, the practical imperative or no human being is a means to an end and lastly duty rather than inclination (Thiroux & Krasemann 2009).
Analysis of Case Study using Act Utilitarianism
As Singer (2003) describes the consequences that act utilitarian’s are most concerned with are the consequences that cause happiness, sadness, pleasure and pain. If we take this into account with Ms Griffith who was suffering from chronic back pain...