Can Hegellian Dialectics Justify Euthanasia?

Can Hegel’s social ethics make a substantial contribution to the Euthanasia debate?

According to Hegel, we should all live in terms of ‘sittlichkeit’ or ‘the idea of freedoms.., the concept of freedom developed into the existing world and nature of self consciousness’ (142).   This means living by subjective freedom; ethical freedom and will allowing one to be fully in line and aware of objective duties.   Where can Euthanasia possibly fit into ethical and moral law?   The debate surrounding Euthanasia is one that has to be approached from many angles.   We shall be exploring it from ethical, moral and religious stances.   To fully understand the issues of Euthanasia we first must both explore and define, in terms of its role in this debate, how we are to view it.   This means that we must look at all differing kinds of Euthanasia and cite examples from history and then apply Hegel’s dialectic to each of them and see if Hegel’s ethics can make a substantial contribution to our judgment of such a contentious issue.

The word Euthanasia, Greek in origin, means quite literally ‘good death.   Epicurean philosophers believed that after one stopped caring for life we are entitled to end it whether through suicide or Euthanasia.   However as thinking progressed in both religious terms and in terms of Natural Law it started to seem less and less justifiable.   In religious terms life is seen as God’s most precious gift to the individual; the physical manifestation of the soul.   Who are we to throw that gift away?   This is a simplified version of the Religious argument.   Only God may take way that which He has given.   Natural LAW

Let us define exactly what we mean by Euthanasia.   In most cases Euthanasia is the killing of an individual to alleviate suffering or to shorten it.   The most ethical example of Euthanasia would be that of Passive Euthanasia.   This is when one simply removes that which is prolonging the human life and in probable terms suffering.   This could...