Voluntary Active Euthanasia

Voluntary Active Euthanasia

"this page is on a specific paper, for the category of Euthanasia, see Euthanasia"

Voluntary Active Euthanasia is the name of a paper by Dan W. Brock in which it the morality and legality of Euthanasia is studied. Brock comes to the conclusion that Voluntary Active Euthanasia should be legalised, under proper conditions.


Traditionally, there are 8 types of mercy killing.But Brock subverts this by claiming that there is no ethical difference between physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia, and there is no ethical difference between passive and active euthanasia.

Physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia

In arguing that physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia are morally equal, he creates a thought experiment of a physician and a patient teaming up to kill another person, the physician provides a lethal drug, while the patient does the final act of murder. Here we see that it doesn't matter who "presses the button", because they are both heavily involved in the action.

Passive and active

In arguing that passive and active euthanasia are morally equal, Brock creates a thought experiment where a group of doctors decide to not put a patient on treatment due to previously discussed wishes. In the other case, the family and physician are stuck in traffic and the hospital puts the patient on treatment. Once the family gets there, the patient is taken off treatment and dies. In both cases the result is the same, so we are led to believe that the ethical difference between the two is traffic. Brock argues that even passive behaviours are "actions", and that letting a patient die is morally equal to killing.

Consequences of legalizing Euthanasia


*Those who want Euthanasia can now have it (self-determination)
*Legalizing Euthanasia will benefit a much larger group since the majority of people in most countries support Euthanasia.
*Gives regular people assurance that they can die as they please in the case of an accident
*Prevents a great deal of suffering (the loss of dignity) at death


*Lose trust of physician:Brock responds that he only supports voluntary euthanasia.
*Puts pressure on dying patients to allow euthanasia, and makes them justify their lives.:Brock responds that a decision to not take one's self off life support already requires the same justification for life, so this argument is nothing new in the subject. If it is used against Euthanasia, then it should be used against ICU too.
*Legalizing euthanasia is a slippery slope:Brock responds that this is very speculative.

uggested Policy

One of the most popular opinions on Euthanasia is that it is morally acceptable, and that those who want to die, should be able to die, but many of these people also feel that it cannot practically be put into legal policy. Brock suggests a new policy that tries to minimize the potential bad consequences of legalizing Euthanasia:
*Only physicians can perform Euthanasia
*Patient must be fully informed on medical condition
*Must ensure patient's request for euthanasia is "stable and enduring" (suggests a waiting period)
*All reasonable alternatives must be explored for improving patient's quality of life
*A psychiatric examination must be taken to assure that this patient is capable of informed consent


*Brock, Dan. "Life and Death" Cambridge University press, 1993.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • voluntary active euthanasia — euthanasia in which one willingly participates …   English contemporary dictionary

  • Active euthanasia — The active acceleration of a good death by use of drugs etc, whether by oneself or with the aid of a doctor. The word euthanasia comes from the Greek eu meaning goodly or well + thanatos meaning death. So, euthanasia is literally the good death.… …   Medical dictionary

  • Euthanasia — For mercy killings performed on animals, see Animal euthanasia. Part of a series on …   Wikipedia

  • Euthanasia and the law — Efforts to change government policies on euthanasia in the 20th century have met limited success in Western countries. Country policies are described below in alphabetical order, followed by the exceptional case of the Netherlands. Euthanasia… …   Wikipedia

  • Euthanasia in the Netherlands — In 2002, the Netherlands legalized euthanasia. Euthanasia is still a criminal offence but the law codified a twenty year old convention of not prosecuting doctors who have committed euthanasia in very specific cases, under very specific… …   Wikipedia

  • euthanasia — /juθəˈneɪʒə / (say yoohthuh nayzhuh) noun 1. Also, active euthanasia. the deliberate bringing about of the death of a person suffering from an incurable disease or condition, as by administering a lethal drug or by withdrawing existing life… …   Australian English dictionary

  • euthanasia — noun ADJECTIVE ▪ voluntary ▪ involuntary, non voluntary ▪ active, passive VERB + EUTHANASIA ▪ perform …   Collocations dictionary

  • Euthanasia — The word euthanasia comes straight out of the Greek eu , goodly or well + thanatos , death = the good death and for 18th century writers in England that was what euthanasia meant, a good death, a welcome way to depart quietly and well from life.… …   Medical dictionary

  • Euthanasia, active — The active acceleration of a good death by use of drugs etc, whether by oneself or with the aid of a doctor. The word euthanasia comes from the Greek eu , goodly or well + thanatos , death = the good death and for 18th century writers in England… …   Medical dictionary

  • euthanasia — n. the act of taking life to relieve suffering. In voluntary euthanasia the sufferer asks for measures to be taken to end his or her life. This may be accomplished by active steps, usually the administration of a drug, or more passively, for… …   The new mediacal dictionary

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