Among the arguments supporting euthanasia the Altruism argument and the duty theory of euthanasia are very popular.! 1) Altruism argument! This theory believes that euthanasia benefits families and society.! No doubt that families and relatives of the patients have the liability of taking care of the patients. For a lengthy period they bore heavy pressures emotionally and psychologically, and in China, financially too. Therefore, euthanizing, at the request of the patients benefits their families.

And also, euthanasia will relieve some burden from society.! These considerations and facts, however, cannot be the only reason for euthanasia. The development of a society is for the whole society, not for just some individuals or a group of people. To do something for the interest of some people (even a majority) while ignoring the interest of some other people (even a minority) is unfair and immoral. It cannot be justified ethically.!

Maybe somebody could argue for euthanasia by considering the interests of patient, family and society. Then what about when the patient’s interest is against the interest of family and society? Considering euthanasia, it is moral to consider the interest of the patient only. China has several thousand years of feudal history, and this traditional culture has a trend of emphasizing collectivity and erasing individuality. It is apt to lead to radical altruism.! 2) The Duty Theory of Euthanasia!

This theory would have society accept the following: the right for a human being to choose the way to die is also a duty. A paper “Social Call for and Some Thoughts regarding Euthanasia”, published in the Journal of Chinese Medical Ethics, says that “to choose death is a right as well as a duty, ! -! -This is a duty to the family, society, and also to mankind”.

! This theory has its problems. First, euthanasia seen from the view of duty theory starts from the altruistic end. Secondly, we do not favor a general or superficial concept of right to die. We acknowledge the right to die of the dying patient, but only the right to choose the way of dying under current medical and technology background. It is the right to choose the way to die by the patient when not bothered or intervened.

If we talk about right to die in a general sense, it may reduce to “slippery slope”. Therefore, duty theory is very dangerous: if we acknowledge that euthanasia is just a duty to die when the quality of life is so low that maintaining it is worthless, weak senior citizens, terminal patients, and handicapped might feel that their lives are burdens on some other people, and that their survival is immoral. They will bear the invisible pressure that may occur in a subtle way. They would be forced to agree to euthanasia by the pressure.

Now the right to die becomes duty to die, individual choice becomes social demand. This certainly will open the way to a dangerous future and lead to the unchecked slippery slope.

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