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Is the distinction between killing and letting die tenable Give your reasons The extent to which this distinction can rightfully be considered morally significant has been discussed by Michael Tooley1 and Judith Jarvis Thompson2 In its application to euthanasia the issue has been brought up across the world numerous times it is an important distinction whose nature is a point still hotly contested The moral significance of the distinction lies at least partially in the nature of morality what does a difference need to be or do or how important must it be to qualify to be considered of significance morally The importance of taking others lives is of immediate and obvious significance to all lives Thou Shalt not kill3 is indisputably a well-known commandment throughout the western world Yet to intervene or not intervene in other peoples death is perhaps a less obvious concern for most lives By prima facie intuition killing might seem worse than letting die in certain cases there is a clear distinction between the two for example killing someone deliberately is murder whereas somebody dying in a hospital might be allowed to die if the patient is considered brain-dead by switching off a machine that is keeping that person alive But isnt it possible that someone could deliberately choose to let somebody die for example whilst having the means to provide an antidote to a poisonning and not administer it and thereby murder and kill them and isnt switching off a machine a deliberate action to end that persons life an intention to kill them So on further consideration the distinction can become less clear Consequentialism based on the intuition that responsibility is taken for actions and that goodness and wrongness can be explained entirely in terms of consequences might seem to be an inappropriate direction in which to consider this issue the direct effects of both killing and letting die are the same
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