Euthanasia comparative analysis
Euthanasia is today once again being debated and these two articles present arguments for and against it. While Sidney Hook takes a suffering patient’s point of view in In Defense of Voluntary Euthanasia, Singer and Siegler take the standpoint of the medical practitioner in Euthanasia – A Critique.
Hook’s style is more personal, full of emotion, and in the first person, befitting a person speaking from harrowing experience on the topic. Singer and Siegler adopt a more formal and impersonal style for the presentation of their arguments, and their approach is guided by a holistic perspective of the medical profession in general, and the role of doctors in alleviating patient suffering in particular.
Being a philosopher, Hook’s language is a bit pedantic, and his sentences a little roundabout. His writing conventions, though impeccable for his times, are a bit archaic, as he belongs to the old school of writing. The other article written by a collaboration of the younger Singer and Siegler is more straightforward, and to the point, the sentences are shorter and easier to understand.
With regard to the arguments, both the articles first present a rebuttal of their claims, and then go on to present qualifiers, but the difference lies in the number of times this exercise is carried out. In the case of Hook, he presents a rebuttal only once, early in the article, by relating his experience where his suffering had led him to ask for euthanasia, which was denied and all turned out well. In the other article, Singer and Siegler present evidence and a series of rebuttals, points in justification of euthanasia, for example the case of Netherlands. They then systematically nullify these by their qualifiers, like why a similar policy will not be successful in America, or even that it is perhaps not completely successful in Netherlands. In the second case the sheer number of rebuttals negated drives the point home.
Another significant difference lies in the evidence presented in both the articles. The only concrete piece of evidence provided by Hook is his near-death trauma, whereas Singer and Siegler, present an entire battery of evidence from various documents cited. They start with the example of Netherlands and also provide deductive reasoning on how effective pain management, or voluntary removal of life support can make euthanasia redundant, and that public policy should not allow the right to euthanasia on the grounds of possible misuse.
Most of Hook’s assumptions are implicit, for instance about another possible heart attack, the probable suffering of his kin and his age disallowing him to achieve anything further. They are also personal, and will not hold universally, as age is a factor particular to him, and may not be common with all other patients. And as he himself admits, the desire to live on at whatever cost is not uncommon. On the other hand, most of the assumptions made by the other article are explicit, and are not limited in their premise. Singer and Siegler provide precise definitions and technical reasons why and how euthanasia can actually become harmful to society.
These articles making the claim for and against the case of euthanasia are equally strong and adequately present the two different points of view. The essential difference is that what compels reader attention for Hook is his voice emerging from genuine suffering, whereas Singer and Siegler derive their power purely on the basis of sound logic, and an unshakeable faith in the medical profession as a giver, and not a taker of life.
Hook, Sidney "In Defense of Voluntary Euthanasia" – Read, Reason, Write: An
Argument Text and Reader. 7th ed. Dorothy U. Seyler. Boston: MacGrawHill, 2205. 109-111
Singer, Peter A., and Mark Siegler. "Euthanasia – A Critique." Read, Reason, Write: An Argument Text and Reader. 7th ed. Dorothy U. Seyler. Boston: MacGrawHill, 2205. 112-113