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Medical Ethics

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Quaestiones Disputate

#3) Whether it is ethical to keep a person alive if their quality of life is not good and will not improve. In such a case, what is the responsibility of the medical profession?

The following argument will be made toward the negative, suggesting that it is intrinsically unethical to keep a person alive under certain circumstances The first issue to address is the sub-components of the Quaestione in order to better set the argument in motion as a proof. The Quaestione can be divided up into the following components [whether it is ethical to keep a person alive] , [if their quality of life is not good] , [and will not improve]. , [In such a case, what is the responsibility] , [of the medical profession].

The first component is, in a general sense, unarguable. Standing alone, the statement of keeping someone alive bears a right to which every human is morally obliged to uphold. They key here is standing alone....Of course society's code of conduct says that we must preserve life, but this can only be true to a sense until the next issue is incorporated - what if their life is not good?

What exactly is not good? If we take it from an Aristotelean point of view, we can see that Aristotle claimed that happiness or good living - being happy, healthy, prosperous, and flourishing - is the goal of human life and the basis of all ethical behavior. This eudaimonia that he begins to describe is an end, in a sense that that goal has been reached. If one can no longer reach this ultimate goal or end or is rendered unable to physically or mentally move oneself in that direction (after all, someone else can't live your life for you to move you to happiness) their life is considered not good. A life rendered not good combined with our ethical obligation to keep someone alive, probably still not enough to grant the individual the ultimate end.

Now if you listen closely, this is where the turning point begins. Being a teleologist, Aristotle claims that every action is good only in so far that they achieve some good end. If life is not good, and we reach stage three where it will not improve, where is the action of keeping the individual alive reaching a good end. The life is not good, nor will it ever be good - so what is the good end that would result that would warrant this action to be a good action. If we would allow this person to die, the ultimate end would be the end of suffering not only for the individual but also for the end to the prolonged suffering to the loved ones around this person. The action of allowing to die has an end that carries more good that outweighs the bad of keeping alive. Along with this comes the advancement of other's lives brought on by the end of this bad condition (this will be discussed later). Not only are you ending these other evil feelings but one is also ending the not good situation revolving around the inability for this person to reach an eudaemonic end. If the decision is made to keep this person alive, the "not good" is prolonged with no apparent out weighing if good in the end.

Since this all came together in such a manner that the action of keeping someone alive in an non-improving, not good state holds more bad than good, then what are we to do and who is responsible for those decisions. This is where the medical profession comes into play. The responsibility of the medical profession is to inform the individuals involved of the condition in which the person in question is in. They are the only ones who are trusted to the



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