Deontological Approach

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Physician Assisted Death: a Deontological Approach Essay

Is a physician-assisted suicide justified? The practice of mercy-killing can be judged as either humane or inhumane depending on one’s moral obligations and the consequential considerations. The controversy about the idea of death with dignity has aroused interest among scholars. This has called for the application of the existing ethical theories to justify any of the possible positions. This paper applies the deontological moral theory to examine the dilemma in question which was introduced in week one’s assignment. Physician Assisted Death: a Deontological Approach Essay. The deontological theory will reaffirm the week one previous position. Since the theory is majorly based on moral actions, it is likely that the end stand will disapprove PAD. The utilitarianism theory will be opposed to this because it puts into account the consequences of an act.

Theory Explanation

The deontological theory is a popular moral approach developed by a celebrated philosopher Immanuel Kant. This theory is founded on the assumption that any decision made an aim majorly towards a predetermined maxim By maxim, Kant means the intention of the act. This implies that our intentions are the determinants of our actions. ‘A maxim expresses a person’s policy, or if he or she has no settled policy, the principle underlying the particular intention or decision on which he or she acts (O’Neill 422).

Kant also assumed that morality is a set of natural rules which are universal and applicable to all human beings. Humans are rational beings, and therefore, the decisions they make should be guided by reasoning. Kant supposes that we do not act instinctively but rather by choice (Thong and Yap 215). According to Kant people’s’ decisions should be guided by good will. The term ‘good will’ in this context refers to things which are ‘good without qualification’ or ‘unconditionally good’ (Sayre-McCord 4). However, the aesthetic value of the goodwill is not necessarily what it achieves. Goodness is not a product of the success of the act but rather the morality of the act. Ideally, we are obliged to appreciate people for their good deeds even if the consequences are negative. The good will is motivated by duty. We all have a duty to act morally right not because we want to but because it is a moral duty and we are indebted to fulfilling it


The deontological ethical theory is fully opposed to euthanasia at whichever circumstances. Firstly, is killing a moral act? Can it be justified? In the contemporary status, there are no legal acts so far which are set to justify suicide. Similarly, both the religious and cultural norms are opposed to this practice.Physician Assisted Death: a Deontological Approach Essay. On the grounds of religion, the religious groups highly condemn this, and their argument is backed up by various holy books teaching such as the Bible.

Culturally, the traditions neither allow this and the violation of this rule would attract harsh consequences not only to individuals but also to their respective clans. Additionally, PAD is highly discouraged by the ethics attached to the medical practices (Collste 22). The medical practitioners barred from taking part in euthanasia even at the interest of the patient. Therefore, this disqualifies the possible good will of the act making it immoral. For an act to be considered moral, it should be good itself and should be done with the right intention. Secondly, euthanasia is a deviation from the universal moral duty. As earlier mentioned, it is our duty to act morally right.

Killing is immoral and therefore not morally justifiable. Considering the consequences of PAD, some theories may tend to justify the act. Nevertheless, Kant does not agree with this. He claims that the benefits attached to this cannot justify the means (Sayre-McCord 5). Thirdly, is the idea of PAD rational? The man has no power or authority to take his life. Though some people may argue that they have freedom over self, Kant disregards this. Presumably, euthanasia is an act of using freedom to get rid of freedom. We all have the freedom to life. There is less sense in using one’s life to eliminate life. This is the most inhumane crime one can commit against self. Kant supposes that human life is highly valuable because they represent a reasonable life perspective (O’Neill 425). According to the above argument, PAD is and illegal act and should not be undertaken. Physician Assisted Death: a Deontological Approach Essay.



The primacy of personal satisfaction is central and should be considered while making decisions. To some extent, it is not easy and right to impose judgments on individuals. Those who argue against the deontological approach to ethical dilemmas base their argument on the consequences of their acts. Kant concentrates on intentions and neglects results (O’Neill 423). This implies that the theory can only restrict intentional acts. In addition, this theory can be considered faulty due to its disinterest to individual opinions, interests, and feelings. It does not provide adequate grounds in support to disqualifying the role of intrinsic intuitions in dealing with moral dilemmas.

Ideally, some circumstances necessitate the application of PAD. The justification of PAD should be considered in cases of extreme suffering and poor quality lives. The people who opt for euthanasia do this relative to their health conditions as well as to avoid overburdening of their families. If they are okay with this, what deters them from pursuing their will? This calls for the need of the society to loosen the set normative rules to accommodate such cases. Physician Assisted Death: a Deontological Approach Essay. Sensibly, one can never understand the difficulties attached to terminal illnesses unless they have gone through the same. Enduring health problems, mental challenges and financial constraints at the same time can be a tough race. Patients normally opt for death to escape these tortures. If this will alleviate their pain, then it needs to be reconsidered.


Judgment on ethical matters is usually variable to all individuals due to varied cognitive dimensions. The diverse approaches can be attributed to diverse social backgrounds, different intellectual capacities, and dissimilar life experiences. Ethical theories are not adequate approaches in addressing ethical issues. However, they form a basis and a guideline of making more accurate and informed decisions. Precisely, a more reliable decision can be achieved by a blend of several moral theories and reasoning. More accurate theories can be formed in relation to practical experiences and seeking public participation.


Collste, G. Applied and Professional Ethics. Kemanusiaan. 2012 19(1), 17-33.
O’Neill, O. A Simplified Account of Kanti’s Ethics. T. Regan (Ed.), Matters of Life and Death, 2003 pp. 411-415.
Sayre-McCord, G. Kant’s Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals A Very brief selective summary of sections I and II. 2000 pp. 1-7.
Thong, J., and Yap, C.-S. Testing an Ethical Decision-Making. Journal of Management Information System. 2008 15(1), 213-237. Physician Assisted Death: a Deontological Approach Essay.