Legally or morally, the doctor don’ have the right to keep the health conditions of the patient as a secret. Keeping the patient optimistic about the recovery when there is no chance is one way of cheating the patient. The patient has trusted the doctor and hence it is morally wrong to give him wrong information about his/her health condition. In short, according to utilitarian ethics, the autonomy of the patient should be given prominence over the professional ethics of the doctor. According to the principles of utilitarianism, cultural, intellectual and spiritual pleasures are of greater value than mere physical pleasure.
When we give autonomy to the patients in determining their future, the patients can prepare themselves for accepting the death just like Britain’s famous reality show celebrity Joe Goody did. Joe Goody has celebrated even her death and she has earned lot of money for her kids by selling the outright claim for telecasting her last moments. In short, respecting the autonomy of the patients in taking decisions about their future will bring material benefits also to the patients and the relatives.
Kantian ethics also argues in favour of the autonomy of patients. Kant argued that we usually label a parson’s activity as good or evil based on our traditional beliefs and customs rather than bothering too much about how that activity is significant to that person. For example, it is quite possible that the relatives of a patient in critical condition may oppose the demand of the patient for mercy killing citing reasons related to religious beliefs. For example, religions believe that the life is the creation of God and only the God has the right to take it back.
Since no science or technology has succeeded in developing artificial life yet, it is illogical to destroy a life. Moreover, religions taught the people that a person will never get salvation or eternal life once he/she commits suicide or deliberately finish his/her life with the help of others. All these traditions and beliefs will force the relatives of the patient to argue against mercy killing. However, Kant argued that such perceptions and beliefs are immoral and the only a person has the right to take decisions about his future based on his consciousness.
Kant argued that family, society and the religion influence us very much in the formulation of our attitudes, thoughts, views etc and our moral education is mostly influenced by the norms prescribed by the family, society and the religion.
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