Rule Utilitarianism and Euthanasia

Brad Hooker addresses the question of whether euthanasia could potentially lead to increased or decreased utility. He specifies different types of euthanasia: voluntary, where both persons involved have consented to the “killing;” non-voluntary, which is euthanasia on someone who did not express a desire on the matter or was unable to; active, occurring out of concern for the person’s own good; and passive, passing up opportunities to prevent death out of concern for the person’s own good. Hooker explains that, on the basis of rule utilitarianism, if allowing for euthanasia will produce generally good consequences, then it is morally permissible. It is true that there would be some benefits to the killing of disabled infants--it would prevent continued suffering for the infants and their families, save medical resources, and increase the average quality of life. 

Brad Hooker
Publisher: Blackwell Publishing
Published in: Ethics in Practice