Legally, assisted suicide has been justified on certain grounds, for example in countries such as the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and in the State of Oregon in the United States (McKean 1). This does not however change the fact that for most people the issue of euthanasia is fundamentally not about giving mercy. It is still the “killing” part that raises the hackles for most people. Mercy (or compassion) and killing (with an intent to kill, it can still be considered murder) are still clearly contradictory, i.e., posed in the very simplistic, yet lucid question: how could you possibly help someone you love or care about kill himself? How could mercy or love ever be allied with the destruction of life, no matter how little remains of it? The morality of any act according to Kant’s well-known adage of the categorical imperative only suffices if it can be raised as a universal law (Kant, Groundwork of The Metaphysics of Morals). To assist someone who wants to die will almost never impel that unconditional sense of rightness, but instead the situation will almost always look at the conditionality of how a particular situation may be acted upon. This action is the opposite of what can be found in the morality of the categorical imperative. A thing according to Kantian morality is right because it is independent of any external cause. In the case of euthanasia, the external cause takes the forms of the mercy or a sense of “duty” to let a person die in dignity, or respect the wishes of someone who wants to end his life....
sion may be high due to a seemingly hopeless situation be trusted in deciding that life is better ended Is he or she an "autonomous" person in this case On the other hand, can a caregiver or a doctor with a close relationship with a terminally ill and suffering patient be looked at as merely performing a duty to respect the decision to die of someone he or she cares about Is it duty or is it something else
The concept of autonomy or the sense of freedom and the principle of duty in Kant's theory of morality provide analytical tools to examine whether euthanasia is morally defensible. Autonomy and dignity, which are based upon the premise that a human being is free by way of reason to decide on what is wrong or right, have been used to justify euthanasia. Conversely, this line of reasoning suggests that the autonomy or dignity of a patient who expresses that life-prolonging treatments or care violate his or her sense of dignity as a human being should be respected.
According to Kant, men are moral beings because by virtue of being free and capable of reason. However, he qualifies the term freedom, and explains further that there is a "negative" and "positive" sense of freedom. He wrote, "The sole principle of morality consists in the independence on all matter of the law (namely, a desired object), and in the determination of the elective will by the mere universal legislative form of which its maxim must be capable. This independence is freedom in the negative sense, and this self-legislation of the pure, and therefore practical reason is freedom in the positive sense" (Kant, Critique of Practical Reason, Book 1, chap.1, par 85).
On both counts, whether in the negative or positive sense, the patient who is supposedly the originator of a decision that would