Euthanasia, a Moral Issue

Euthanasia, a Moral Issue


Institutional Affiliation

A critical analysis of Gay-Williams article: EUTHANASIA, A MORAL ISSUE

Moral Theory

Williams articulates his assertions citing his arguments from the laws of nature. This argument is centered on the idea that killing ourselves is immoral, therefore, in the same vein; a physician killing is also immoral (Munson, 1979). This is because, according to William, in violation of the natural impulse for self-preservation is, thus, against human nature. Coupled with this theory, are very crucial ethical principles of bioethics, which as autonomy, no maleficence, beneficence, and justice (Munson, 1979).

The principle of autonomy clearly advances the notion that any rational person is and should be self-determining and able to make own decisions (Munson, 1979). This is in contrast with paternalism, where medical practitioners make decisions that are independent of the patient and his family. On the other hand, Williams agrees to the need for autonomy, which in many instances may not be absolute (Munson, 1979). Essentially, patients need to respect the integrity of medical professions and their ability to refute irrational wishes for unsuitable or vain care and treatment. Nonetheless, it is understood that patients who are not contended with the availed treatment should seek treatment options elsewhere as second options (Munson, 1979).

Clearly, active euthanasia according to Williams, which could be viewed as assisted death by utilitarians, violates these principles. As such, it is false to allude that ill people must expect agonies and humiliation from which death in itself is the only merciful release.

Williams Arguments: Summary

Humans, as Gay-Williams asserts have a natural predisposition to continue living. This is self-fostered in the practice of care and caution necessary to look after ourselves in our daily lives (Munson, 1979). Moreover, Williams relays that our reflexes and responses aid us in fighting attackers, hide from wild animals, and respond fast to alarms. In addition, Williams alludes to the fact that our bodies are structured for survival right down to the molecular level (Munson, 1979). When we are cut, our capillaries seal shut, our blood clots, and fibrinogen is produced to start the process of healing the wound. When bacteria invade us, antibodies are produced to fight against the alien organisms, and their remains are swept out of the body by special cells designed for clean-up working. Hence, the act of killing violates this natural goal of survival. Therefore, this is exactly acting against nature because all the processes of nature are inclined towards our survival (Munson, 1979).

Gay-Williams further notes that the organization of human body and patterns of behavioral responses make the continuation of life a natural goal. Thus, the reason against euthanasia is that is sets humans against their nature, therefore, makes it wrong for people to kill themselves or be killed by a physician (Munson, 1979). Consequently, it is altogether unlawful to kill oneself, for three main motives. First, it is because we all love our inner selves and our mutual existence. Further, it is the result of the common understanding, revealing our wish and an inner liking for natural wellbeing. Wherefore, perversity is dissimilar to the predisposition of nature, and to the basic knowledge that every man should love himself, an implication that charity begins at home (Munson, 1979).


I entirely agree with Williams that active euthanasia and its practice by medical physicists is outrightly wrong and against natural laws, simply because man has a natural drive and urge to survive, to continue living (Munson, 1979). Thus, it is absurd and a contradiction, for an individual to kill himself or be assisted to kill himself/herself since all living things naturally preserve themselves (Munson, 1979). Nevertheless, seeing the issue at hand from an alternative viewpoint, there are many situations in which life has to be sacrificed, especially a life that utilitarians argue, has deteriorated in quality. That is; it is arguably necessary to note that although to live may not be an obligation, but to live morally even when it lasts, to advocates of euthanasia is in itself an uncalled for proclamation. I am afraid that it is critical for a moral requirement to euthanasia. This either by oneself or through the help of a medical professional raise the ominous and despotic prospect that individuals may be required to indulge in perversity against their wishes. Hence, a medical profession who engages a patient in euthanasia performs a duty contrary to the self-interest of the patient (Munson, 1979).


Perhaps, being withdrawn from the notion and concepts of euthanasia and unacceptance reflects a clear and open acceptance of a variation of the purity of life views or may echo concerns about violations of an individual’s autonomy and self-determination. Thus, unlike animals, we are conscious through reason of our nature and our ends. Euthanasia especially by a physicist involves acting as if this dual nature – preference towards existence and sentence of this as an end – did not exist. In addition, euthanasia refutes our basic social character and requires that we honor ourselves or that medical doctors regard patients as nothing less than full human. As clear as crystal is the fact that human being have an inclination toward life and continual of existence. We all deserve better and as a result, individuals need space to exercise their right of self-determination.


Robert Munson (1979). Intervention and reflection: Basic issues in medical ethics. Thomson/Wadsworth.