A Critique Of Neil Campbell

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A Critique Of Neil Campbell’s Problem With Voluntary Euthanasia Essay, Research Paper A Critique of Neil Campbell’s Problem with Voluntary Euthanasia Dr. Neil Campbell, author of “A Problem for the Idea of Voluntary Euthanasia,” questions whether there can be a such thing as voluntary euthanasia. Euthanasia, or physician-assisted suicide, is the intentional termination of life by another at the explicit request of the person who dies. Dr. Campbell’s main argument is that “if the pain and suffering are by definition unbearable, then it seems clear enough that the decision to die is not freely chosen but is compelled by the pain.” Dr. Campbell, a Sessional Instructor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Calgary, believes there is no clear cut way

to differentiate between “voluntary” and “involuntary” euthanasia under certain conditions. Many would agree with Dr. Campbell Campbell regarding this but we still must be sure we are exercising the true wishes of the patient. His insight on physician-assisted suicide does pose a problem (as stated in the title) but what is the solution? Further distinction between voluntary and involuntary euthanasia is not the solution. There are always exceptions to the rule. In his discussion Dr. Campbell is aware that everyone is more concerned with the debates over “active” and “inactive” euthanasia but he believes that the real debate should be over “voluntary” and “involuntary” euthanasia. No one is as concerned with this distinction because involuntary euthanasia

is unacceptable despite any situation and that is why Dr. Campbell wants the distinction to be taken seriously. In the passage Dr. Campbell uses the analogy between patients suffering extremes of pain who ask the doctor to assist in suicide and a prisoner who has been tortured for information. The prisoner does not want to reveal any information but to make the pain stop he is compelled to talk. Dr. Campbell concludes that “under the conditions of unbearable pain and suffering, then, if the concern of the agent is to alleviate the pain it seems to be a mistake to speak of voluntary choices.” Although they may seem rational under various conditions they have nothing to do with if the choice was made freely. We cannot be certain of the patient’s wishes when they get to the

point where they can no longer freely choose the right to die, so we will use living will as a proxy. When that time does come in the patient’s life, even with the living will we are obligated to ask the patient up until the last possible moment if they still want their wishes to be followed. In doing so it puts us back in the predicament mentioned earlier. Dr. Campbell has brought up a valid point that does raise questions regarding euthanasia. It is significant in the fact that many probably have not given this concept much thought. Although what he states regarding voluntary and involuntary euthanasia is a valid argument there is no proof for his statements. Who’s to say we are not capable of making such a decision as this when under unbearable pain and suffering? His

analogy between the patients and the prisoners is false and confusing. The two instances have more differences than similarities and only succeed in confusing the reader. He tends to oversimplificate the solution to such a complex problem. Living wills alone are not going to end the rare debate over voluntary and involuntary euthanasia. In giving living wills as a possible solution he contradicts it, “we have no way of ensuring that the patient’s desire to end his life is freely chosen, and so, even with living wills it appears as though euthanasia is not permissible where unbearable pain and suffering are concerned.” He then concludes that a more careful distinction between voluntary and involuntary euthanasia will help solve the problem. I agree with Dr. Campbell that