I intend to explain the virtue theory from an Aristotelian perspective. In addition to the virtue theory, there exists the utilitarian and the deontology ethical theories that attempt to explain the wrongs and rights that human beings commit day by day. The ethical theories emphasize the virtues and vices that make living a totality.
Aspects of virtue ethical describe the ways of that enable human beings make a good life. The understanding of virtues and vices enables us judge the actions that are right and develop reinforcement towards them. Human beings apply these theories in a number of activities that define their personalities and acquisition of good traits of character. This essay provides an exploration of the virtue theory. It explains how virtuous doctors can use the theory to judge euthanasia patients.
The Virtue Theory
The virtue theory is an ethical philosophy that explains human habits based on factors that comprise a good life. The exponents of this approach hold that right virtues correlate directly with the purposes and functioning of human beings. Aristotle claims that the human beings acquire virtues through rational practices that pertain to psyche, desires, appetite, wisdom, and abilities.
This theory examines the personal qualities of human beings that judge their virtuousness. The assumed function of the virtue theory is the creation of happiness through rationalization of moral values. The exponents of the virtue theory perceive happiness as a valuable pleasure that completes the totality of sound being. Happiness is a chief source of morale (Rachels 34). Therefore, it is perceived as the starter of everything else that occurs in the life of a human being. The virtue theory focuses on the character of individuals who possess the capacities to perform actions rather than the individual actions themselves.
Aristotle believed that the purpose of human beings on earth is happiness. I suppose that Aristotle talked about the happiness of the community rather than that of an individual. Human beings are not only rational but also social beings. Aristotelians theorize that the brain of a human being comprises both rational and irrational faculties. The rational part forms the conscious brain and performs most of the reasoning processes. According to Aristotle, the irrational faculty is broad and exists in man and animals. These faculties enable us to differentiate between vices and morals.
The issue of euthanasia has remained a debatable topic in for many years. Euthanasia is a deliberate act of terminating the life of terminally ill persons in an attempt to relieve pain or suffering that arises from incurable and incapacitating diseases and/or disorders. Some theorists have ironically used the term euthanasia to mean a ‘good death.’ Euthanasia assumes numerous classifications that depend on the reason of killing a person.
This act can be passive or active, intentional or unintentional, and natural or self-triggered. Active euthanasia is a deliberate termination of a terminally ill patient by the use of drugs while passive euthanasia defines a situation where a patient is allowed to pass away naturally. Intentional euthanasia happens when a patient requests the doctor in charge to kill him or her while unintentional euthanasia is a situation where members of the patient’s family give doctors consent to kill the patient.
Virtue Theory and Euthanasia
I agree with the fact that the medicine sector has realized the power of the ever-advancing technology. Doctors and other medical practitioners have gained the ability to control or extend the lives of patients with sophisticated technologies in hospitals. For instance, doctors might decide to use a lifesaver machine to extend the life of a patient.
However, several ethical considerations precede the decision of extending the life of a patient. Prior to euthanasia, there is a need to ask several questions about whether the virtuous person should extend the patient’s life in case of pronounced suffering or illness. I might be insolent to think that people with serious sicknesses, incapacitation, and pain do not deserve life. Many researchers have revealed that virtuous people usually support continued treatment of patients, regardless of their worsened health conditions. As far as life matters are concerned, the life of a person should be taken care of until the last respect is paid (Rachels 36).
Therefore, doctors seek all possible means to keep the patient’s life in check by administering the right treatment and care for the virtuous wellbeing of the patient. However, a patient may decide to choose voluntary euthanasia owing to the worsened medical condition. In this case, the patient has to involve a number of individuals who may include children, relatives, and friends. I can confirm that a patient who chooses euthanasia has to take into account the Aristotle’s virtue of courage.
The patient has to establish a ‘golden mean’ that exists between fearfulness and courageousness. On one side, I might say that courageousness can drive patients towards choosing euthanasia in a bid to ease the emotional and financial burden for the caretakers. In addition, patients may result in euthanasia due to their cowardly acts towards the reality of life. Therefore, I consider such a move an act of desperation and lack of fortitude.
Perhaps, the significance of Aristotle’s virtue theory was to provide proper means of understanding the goodness of the society in totality as opposed to a particular individual. Regardless of the occurrence of death in the event of euthanasia, we can acknowledge that the society realizes the benefits of such a decision in a number of ways.
Notwithstanding the feelings that accompany euthanasia, the termination of a patient’s life cuts down overgrowing hospital bills whilst saving time and space. In reality, the elimination of the unproductive lot of people from society may bring about an economic ascend (Rachels 39). I perceive compassion and courage as the two major compelling factors that help virtuous persons make decisions on euthanasia patients.
Based on the above-mentioned expositions, the Aristotelian theory is useful in settling down feelings of having a terminally ill patient in the hospital. However, the issue of euthanasia creates controversy amongst doctors, patients, and family members. There are no proper control measures to rule out euthanasia patients. If this practice is not controlled in advance, it might lead to killing people who have recovery possibilities.
Due to the simplicity of the virtue ethics theory, its application in complex issues such as euthanasia does not satisfactorily marry facts and theoretical literature. There is also a need to set reasonable legislation that addresses the issue to avoid a conflict between compassion and courage. As aforementioned, these two virtues can cause damage to clients, a situation that leads to misunderstanding. Nevertheless, researchers need to seek more information concerning the improvement and polishing of the virtue theorist approach.
Rachels, James. The Elements of Moral Philosophy. McGraw-Hill Publishing Company 2011. Print.