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Incurable diseases

  1. Jan 10, 2006 #1


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    So I have this pretty crazy question in my mind that always bothers me. Imagine a person who's suffering from an incurable disease and is willing to die. This sick person knows his condition would become worse and worse evryday and there would be no hope to cure his sickness. and living longer for him means tolerating more awful pain. He really wants to die but he doesn't want to do it by himself and wants someone( his doctor or nurse...) to do it for him. Now the question is: is it immoral if that person accepts his request and kill him by changing the dose of his drugs for example?

    PS I'm not going to kill anyone since I'm not a doctor or nurse. So don't be afraid of answering to my question!:redface:
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 10, 2006 #2


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    This is a terribly complex issue, and a lot has been said about it. Ethical principles and moral views vary from individual to individual, and in a lot of cases, the law makes a very clear stand on the issue.

    The issue is far too complex to be explained in a post here, so you should google a few things : "physican assisted suicide", "Hippocratic oath" (and relevance to modern medicine), "euthanasia", "active euthanasia", "passive euthanasia", "double effect", "right to die", "living will".

    I'm sure you'll get a much more complete understanding of the issues involved. Following that, you can start a more directed discussion. :smile:
    Last edited: Jan 10, 2006
  4. Jan 10, 2006 #3


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    Thank you very much!:smile: It's laways good to have someone who points you in the right direction.
  5. Jan 10, 2006 #4
    I don't think euthanasia is immoral if it's what the patient wanted. Now on the other hand if the patient is in a coma so someone else just says, "ah just kill 'em. It's what they would've wanted" well that's different. But if the patient themselves wanted to die, then it wouldn't be immoral to accomodate that request.
  6. Jan 10, 2006 #5
    There are some people who will maintain that anyone who wants to die, regardless of their circumstances, is not mentally competent to make the decision. It's a variation of Catch22.
  7. Jan 10, 2006 #6
    I haven't heard that one before. Then again I've never really talked about this topic before..

    But if I heard someone say that I would not believe them. Everyone is different and has different values; the desire to live (in whatever circumstances) is not a universal norm or requirement for mental stability.

    Like if someone says that you're nuts if you don't like baseball.. Yeah THEY may really like baseball. Nothing is universally desired or appreciated. The one thing I think comes closest is music, (do you know a lot of people who don't like music?) but life? No. We can't impose values on people.
  8. Jan 10, 2006 #7
    In Joseph Heller's novel, Catch-22,
    During the Terri Shiavo thing, there were any number of discussions that relied on this sort of logic.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  9. Jan 10, 2006 #8


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    The Catch-22 does not apply to Terris Schaivo (or any similar living-will case) because in such cases, the person makes their wishes known before getting into that situation, nevertheless, it is an interesting twist on the issue (and there was a good Law and Order episode about it).

    Anyway, my personal opinion is that assissted suicide - even physician assissted - is morally right. I do not interpret the hippocratic oath to mean that a person should be required to live in pain. Pain is harm - "do no harm" means don't cause pain.
  10. Jan 11, 2006 #9


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    FYI, the Hippocratic oath never contained the words "Primum non nocere", or "First do no harm". That may have been a Hippocratic saying but it was not in the oath. This is a common misconception amongst non-medical laypeople.

    What *was* indisputably in the oath was the following : "I will give no deadly medicine to any one if asked, nor suggest any such counsel"

    which is a clear proscription against physician assisted suicide.

    Reference : http://www.geocities.com/everwild7/noharm.html

    Interestingly, immediately after it is a proscription against abortion as
    well, and that has been pretty much disregarded by most modern doctors.
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2006
  11. Jan 11, 2006 #10
    It also prevents medical proffessionals from helping administer a lethal injection, therefore ensuring that whoever provides the anesthesia in the procedure to ensure a humane death does not know what they are doing.
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