James Rachels

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The traditional distinction between active and passive euthanasia requires critical analysis. The conventional doctrine is that there is such an important moral difference between the two that, although the latter is sometimes permissible, the former is always forbidden. This doctrine may be challenged for several reasons. First of all, active euthanasia is(More)
A visible result of the 20-year old applied ethics movement is the use of moral philosophers as quotable newspaper sources. In situations like the op-ed page, adequate space and time allows for serious reflection, and the columns provide accessible, quality ideas for the general public. Quality usually disappears when the newspaper interviews an ethicists(More)
Rachels reviews the social and legal facts of the celebrated "Baby M" case, in which surrogate Mary Beth Whitehead attempted to keep the daughter she had borne under contract to William Stern. The first phase of the legal battle between the parents ended in March 1988, when New Jersey Superior Court Judge Harvey R. Sorkow upheld the validity of the(More)
The Principle of Agency says that if it would be good for a state of affairs to occur "naturally," then it is permissable to take action to bring it about. This contradicts the views of some bioethicists, who object to euthanasia, in vitro fertilization, and cloning, even though they acknowledge that the states of affairs produced are good. But the(More)