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The Wrongfulness of Euthanasia

In his "Argument from Nature," Gay-Williams contends that every human being has a natural inclination to continue living. He argues that each of our bodily functions is structured to fight for survival, including the capillaries that seal shut when we are cut, the way our blood clots, and the way our body produces fibrogen to begin the healing process (Gay-Williams, 1995, p. 137). He maintains that euthanasia acts against nature by doing violence to this natural inclination to survival. In essence, he is arguing that euthanasia violates the natural goal of life: survival, which he seems to view as the ultimate purpose for living (Gay-Williams, 1995, p. 137). Notably, he also maintains that the increasing acceptance of euthanasia within our society is not so much due to a tendency to devalue human life as "the result of unthinking sympathy and benevolence" (p. 136). He argues, therefore, that euthanasia - the deliberate killing of a person believed to be suffering from a terminal illness or injury - is not the result of a lack of caring, but perhaps the inaccurate application of compassion.

Gay-Williams also maintains that euthanasia sets us against our own nature because it does violence to our dignity. Gay-Williams does not define dignity in this context, but the common understanding of dignity is a sense of worth, maybe even nobility. Gay-Williams is arguing, therefore, that killing oneself or another, even for compassionate reasons, violates that person's worthiness because that person sense of worth comes from their natural inclination to survive (p. 137-138). As he states, euthanasia violates humans' ultimate goal of survival as well as the dignity that comes from the knowledge of this ultimate goal. This, essentially, is Gay-Williams' "Argument from Nature."

Gay-Williams also takes care to define euthanasia. He argues that it does not include accidental killings of terminally ill people. He also excludes from the definition...

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The Wrongfulness of Euthanasia. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 18:27, February 21, 2017, from