James Rachels

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Response Papers Instructions

General Instructions for Response Papers

The idea behind each Response Paper is for you to reflect on the case or article and to write a thoughtful, well-reasoned response to the situation or issue presented, incorporating any arguments or conclusions you may make in light of the other readings and presentations in the course. Your evaluation of the case should be based on the following questions: Do you agree with the ultimate outcome of the case or conclusion to the article? What would you have done differently? Are there any red flags that are raised in your mind? As a Christian, how should you respond to situations or arguments like these? The prompt for each Response Paper will present additional, specific questions for you to consider as you read the case. Each prompt will identify which questions you must address and which ones you may consider and optionally address in your response.

One thing to avoid is an emotional response. You may passionately disagree with the outcome or the views of the author(s) or judge(s); however, you must not turn your Response Paper into an emotional rant. Each paper must be a reflective, intellectual, academic response to the merits of the case or article. Also, be respectful of those involved. Do not insult them by calling them names or using other derogatory language. This will lose you points. You can disagree and be respectful about it.

You must write at least 500 words (about 2 pages) for each Response Paper. Your grade will be reduced if you go below the minimum. Each Response Paper must follow current Turabian format. You must submit each Response Paper as a Microsoft Word document using the submission link in Blackboard. Do not cut and paste your paper. Instead, attach it as a separate file.

James Rachels (New England Journal of Medicine 292 [January 1975]: 78–80)

In this article, philosopher James Rachels attempts to erase the distinction between active euthanasia (AE) and passive euthanasia (PE) and suggest that if one is ethically permissible, the other should be also be permissible in similar, morally relevant situations. Read the article and address the following questions:

1. Rachels’s first argument is that AE is often preferable to PE because AE is more merciful towards those who are suffering extreme pain. Do you agree? While one can recognize a strong emotional appeal here, is this morally relevant to the issue of intentionally ending a life? Do you think his use of the Down’s syndrome child is effective?

2. Rachels’ s second argument is critical of decisions based on “irrelevant grounds.” What are the irrelevant ground he mentions? Do you think he makes a good argument here? Do you think that the fact he uses a downs syndrome child muddies the water with this point?

3. Rachels claims that the analogy of the boy in the bathtub contains 2 cases “that are exactly alike except that one involves killing whereas the other involves letting someone die.” Are they exactly alike? What are some differences between the “boy in the bathtub illustration” and the active/passive distinction? 

4. According to the Reading & Study material, are AE and PE “exactly alike except that one involves killing whereas the other involves letting someone die”?

5. In his fourth argument, Rachels seems to believe that the only difference between AE and PE is that AE involves action and PE involves inaction. Is that true? Is that what makes the moral difference?

    • Posted: 6 days ago
    • Due: 
    • Budget: $15
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