Implications of Joseph Fletcher’s situation ethics for euthanasia

  • Lawrence Odey Ojong


This work is an evaluation on the phenomenon of euthanasia from the standpoint of Joseph Fletcher‟s Situation Ethics. It primarily deals with the idea of the sacredness and dignity of human life in relation to euthanasia (the medical killing of a terminally ill person on grounds of compassion). The central problem here is whether human life has intrinsic value that should be unconditionally preserved? Arguing from the standpoint of deontological ethics, most opponents of euthanasia contend that human life is a supreme value with an inherent dignity. Human life is therefore perceived as sacred and inviolable. Contrary to this view, proponents of euthanasia approach the phenomenon from a humanistic and liberal perspective. They agree with the opponents of euthanasia that, human life is a supreme value with inherent dignity but go further to argue that, every human being is a mortal being with rationality, emotion and will, and as such, should not be compelled to undergo unnecessary prolonged dehumanizing suffering from terminal illness. This work sees both approaches of the opponents of euthanasia and the proponents as inadequate. In line with the principles of situation ethics, the work argues that, the morality or immorality of euthanasia is relative to certain situations. It also identifies certain situations like liver failure, brain damage, paralysis, comatose, kidney failure, cancer, critical accident, etc. that can justify the act of euthanasia situationally.


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eISSN: 1119-443X