Utilitarianism, as advocated by John Stuart Mill argues that for morality to prevail in society, the greatest happiness principle should override every decision that people make concerning a moral issue (Oliphant 115). In considering the subject of euthanasia, I will argue that it brings many emotions to people and society in general. These emotions can be good or bad. However, changing the mindset of people concerning the terminally ill person is a platform for making people happy. Indeed, if ending the life of an individual will help the sick and society, then euthanasia is a way of achieving the greatest good for people.
The doctrine of utilitarianism was advanced by John Mill and has been referred to as the greatest happiness principle (Tulloch 136). Utilitarianism looks at the greatest good for people and society. When considered in this manner, euthanasia is good since it relieves the person suffering and society as a whole benefits. Life constitutes of two levels of pleasure: higher and lower. A person should be able to enjoy both levels of pleasures according to John Mill. For instance, the highest level of pleasure is the intellect, while the lowest is the body. Based on these two levels, a desire to end the life of a person should take cognizance of the absence of pain as well as the pride of the person. A terminally ill person cannot enjoy life or pleasure. It means that such an individual is not in a position to derive any pleasure or pursue their almost happiness in their condition (Rae, 85). In addition, relying on others to fulfill ones needs denies them a chance to be happy as they are denied a chance pursue their life goals. Therefore, a terminally ill person does not enjoy life, neither are those who take care of them (Otlowski 190). Since the doctrine of utilitarianism advocates the pursuit of happiness, then ending the lives of the terminally ill people is good for society.
From my own perspective, the taking away of the life of an individual does not seek happiness as the end in itself. Euthanasia is undertaken as merely a means and not an end. There are many reasons why people might desire to carry out euthanasia. A person might be terminally ill and using a lot of resources, which could otherwise help the relatives or society in general. If there is no hope for such a person to live, euthanasia might be a good option (Tulloch 131). However, looking for ways or reasons not to undertake euthanasia can only be a means to an end. This approach cannot be considered as the end in itself. Indeed, euthanasia works as a means for society. It is also the same case for someone who commits suicide. In the societal context, people might not wish to be burdened by spending resource to ensure someone feels catered for or comfortable (Gorsuch 102). However, there might be some people in society who might reminisce that it would be better for a person who is terminally ill to cease to exist. Taking away of the life of such a person cannot foster happiness to many people. Incase it does bring happiness to society, indeed; such happiness is only short lived. In essence, if society can derive some element of relief and joy in a short moment, this can only be said to be a means and not the end.
In summary, utilitarianism considers the general good for all people in society. The terminally ill are not happy since they cannot pursue the things that can make them happy. On the other hand, their handlers feel the burden in taking care of them. Therefore, Euthanasia, which seeks to end the life of the sick, is a good platform to achieving happiness for all.
Gorsuch, M. Neil. The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. New Jersey, 2009. Print.
Oliphant, Jill. OCR Religious Ethics for AS and A2. New York: Taylor & Francis, 2008. Print.
Otlowski, F.A. Margaret. Voluntary Euthanasia and the Common law Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012. Print.
Rae, Scott. Moral Choices 2nd Edition: An Introduction. London: Zondervan, 2000. Print.
Tulloch, Gail. Euthanasia: Choice and Death. London: Edinburgh University Press, 2005. Print.