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Life Support: Kantian Ethics

Define the criteria for the withdrawal of life support once it has been started. Defend those criteria on the basis of (1) Kantian Ethical system, and create an economic model that contrasts current practices with your proposed criteria.

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Please see response below. I also attached a highly informative article on the humanistic perspective on withdrawing life support.

RESPONSE:

1. Define the criteria for the withdrawal of life support once it has been started.

Until recently, end of life decisions were easy: you tried to stay alive as long as possible, and then you "just died". Today, we are lucky if we are able to "just die". In most cases, difficult decisions have to be made about when to stop treatment (Hinman, 2006). From a humanistic stand point, Bednarz (2000) points out that although many believe that withdrawing life support once it has been started it to be an action of physician-assisted suicide, in reality withdrawing life-support has been affirmed in court many times (Quinlan, Herbert, Linares, and the like).

However, if the following criteria for the withdrawal of life support once it has been started are fulfilled, it is a procedure in which the physician (or health care proxy) is acting within the limits of the law:

* It is virtually certain that further medical intervention will not attain any of the goals of medicine other than sustaining organic life.
* The preferences of the patient are not known and cannot be expressed.
* The quality of life clearly falls below minimal.
* Family and members of the staff are in accord (Bednarz, 2000) (http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1374/is_3_60/ai_62111880/pg_1) (Attached for convenience)

2. Defend those criteria on the basis of (1) Kantian Ethical system.

The Kantian model emphasizes autonomy, rights and respect. It is very similar to the humanistic argument proposed by Bednarz (2003) in the article attached. Although Kant argues for the sanctity of life, there are always tensions created between the principles of the sanctity of life and the humanistic principles of autonomy, rights and respect. In this Kantian sense, then patients should have the right to make their own decisions, which sets up an obligation that people should respect that right. This seems somewhat paradoxical to Kantian arguments for the sanctity of life: life is a gift from God, respect for life is like 'a seamless garment, the importance of ministering to the sick and dying and life as priceless (Kant). However, Kantian ethics seems to resolve this tension by respecting the autonomy of the individual while still arguing the principles of the sanctity of life. Kantian ethics puts the decision in the hands of the individual to define and decide the type of care that they want or if they want care (principle of autonomy). As mentioned, others are obligated to respect that right, including end of life decisions made by the patients (Hinman, 2006, pp. 34-).

Kantian ethics could perhaps support the following conditions/criteria required by applying the principles of ...

Solution Summary

Applying Kantian ethics, this solution assists and defines the criteria for the withdrawal of life support once it has been started. It also defends those criteria on the basis of (1) Kantian Ethical system, and creates an economic model that contrasts current practices with your proposed criteria.

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