Euthanasia is referred to as an intentional ending of someone’s life with intent of relieving pain as well as suffering. This is a practice which is carried out by doctors in a number of institutions as a request from the patient or the patient’s relatives. The advocate of euthanasia considers the practice as a compassionate response towards the suffering of a terminally ill individual in which the condition is thought to be unbearable. Other people state that the issue of euthanasia is an expression of a person’s autonomy whereby any competent individual have a full right of making self-governing choices especially in regarding the issues of his life. This makes euthanasia an issue bearing a number of dimensions which needs to be addressed (Clough, 1999).
A number of people have come in hand to oppose euthanasia stating that the life sanctity forbids it, while others have stated that with the availability of the palliative care services which are provided in order to relieve pain and the suffering experienced by the terminally ill patients, euthanasia as an alternative is unnecessary . Others indicate that there are a number of negative social consequences which are related to the legalization of euthanasia. This has therefore called for shunning of this practice and dismissing it as unnecessary practice. Shunning of the practice and declaring it illegal has not been welcomed by a number of individuals especially the proponents of euthanasia. As a result there has been a wide range of debates concerning this practice. These debates have existed with an aim of promoting euthanasia and others with an aim of discouraging it (Hockey, 2003).
As a result of different views on euthanasia which are contradicting on ethical grounds, euthanasia has become an ethical dilemma in the society. Some people consider euthanasia as unethical practice while others consider it ethical and put forward argument in support of the practice. Some philosophers have come in with different ideologies in respect to the growing debates regarding euthanasia. The two philosophies which have been playing an active role regarding the ethical dilemma debate on euthanasia are the libertarian and authoritarian ethical philosophies. The authors of these two ethical philosophies have been putting across their inputs especially on the debates regarding the ethical considerations of euthanasia (Clough, 1999).
In philosophy, libertarian refers to the idea in which human free will is considered as a necessary precondition especially in moral responsibility. Human beings are considered to possessing this free will which guides them in executing a number of important decisions in life. Considering the stand of a number of Libertarian authors, human acts are not in any manner determined by a prior state of the available natural laws. It is considered that these laws might be in possession of some great influence upon the decisions made by humans, but at the same time these decisions may not be directly influenced by these state laws. This shows that human being have autonomy to choose on what to follow in life (Hospers, 2002).
The libertarians argue that if a certain action is promoting the best interest of all the parties concerned and do not in any case violate any person’s right then the action is generally considered as a morally acceptable act. According to Hospers, (2002), a libertarian, Euthanasia is seen to promote the best interest of everyone who is involved and does not violates any individual’s right and hence considered as a morally acceptable acts. A number of people have come in hand to object this argument. The opponents attacking this argument by the libertarian, claims that there are no cases that are able to fit the conditions which are indicated above. People usually tend to think that things that are not morally acceptable are in their best interest. But in most cases people tend to be wrong while deciding on what best suits their interest. This tends to make people not realize that committing of euthanasia may pose some harm to other people while depriving the dead person and a number of others of some particular benefits. The opponents have their view that euthanasia poses a great impact on the society in general and hence as a matter of ethics it should not be conducted (Clough, 1999).
According to Hart an libertarian ( Beauchamp & Childress, 2000), he argues that if in any case there is existence of universal human right, then they are found in existence with a one fundamental human right which is considered to be ‘equal right of all men to be free’. This means that human being possess some freedom in them which makes free to exercise on our full autonomy and hence on the other hand respecting each person’s autonomy. According to Gillon autonomy is a self-rule or generally a capacity to be able to think as well as decide and act on the basis of ones thought and decisions without any hindrance. The individual autonomy is a great influence especially in regard to making a choice concerning the issue of euthanasia (Beauchamp & Childress, 2000).
Authoritarianism ethical philosophy states that the majorities of the people are ethically incompetent and therefore need to be obedient to one ethically competent authority. Authoritarian ethical philosophy follows a political view which claims that individual subjects should be obedient to the authority. Authoritarianism is a basic prescription of the obedience of individuals, and does not necessarily require any higher validating principle. The authoritarianism does not require any governing rules but only requires individuals who controls on a given number of issues (Richter, 2001).
According to authoritative ethical principle, deciding on the euthanasia pose a number of benefits as well as less harm to the individual and others. The decision of conducting euthanasia is sorely left on one individual and does not have influence of any law. A number of authoritative authors have indicated that, in a very few months to the death of an individual an optimal palliative care towards the individual is only capable of relieving pain in only about 5 percent of all the individual patients. It is unjustified to have euthanasia done in the cases where pain has not been fully treated. The correct intervention would be either manage the patient’s pain effectively or terminate life in the cases where the pain has not been fully managed (Richter, 2001).
The authors of authoritarian ethical philosophy say that authoritarian tends to promote on the non-maleficence and the beneficence principles. Beneficence refers to all those actions which are done for the full benefit of other while the non-maleficence usually is a concern of not harming other people. According Beauchamp and Childress (2000) they state that even though we bear some responsibility of being morally prohibited to cause any harm to anyone we are not supposed to give a helping hand to another person whom we bear no special relationship with. This give a clear stand on the authoritarian ethical principle that we need to always follows the command of higher authority but not necessarily rely on our own autonomous judgments in addressing the issues concerning euthanasia (Richter, 2001).
Euthanasia has been and is still a great ethical dilemma in our society. Most people feel that it should be administered while other have a contrary opinion referring it as an act which goes against the right of an individual. Both the libertarian and authoritarian ethical philosophies authors have had some conflicting interest in respect to the issue of euthanasia. Some considers it to be done at te free will of the individual while others sees it as a factor which is going against the will of humanity. Therefore euthanasia should be subjected to a number of ethical considerations before executing or making it legal. In some cases it might be done in contrary to the wish of the person and in others the person may be willing to have euthanasia whereas the family members or some other parties is opposed to it hence ethical considerations are of great importance especially regarding euthanasia.