This study is a critical reflection on Marek Vácha’s article on the ethics of euthanasia. In the first part the author offers a short consideration of the reasons for the moribund state of ethics in Czech philosophy, after which, in the second part, he presents a critique of Vácha’s article. The article in question is, above all, lacking in a philosophical approach to the problem of euthanasia, and we find in it not so much arguments as rhetoric. The only line of argument that is detectable in the article is founded on natural theology, something that Vácha elsewhere repudiates, and it offers the reader a false dilemma between accepting theistic ethics on the one hand or total subjectivism on the other. In reality, of course, there is a wide range of kinds of objective secular ethics. In the third part, one of these forms is summarised a system of everyday morality which is founded on the concept of harm, and which treats conduct as immoral primarily when it causes unjustifiable harm to others. This form of ethics does not presuppose any controversial theory of value, and it constitutes the viewpoint from which the author then defends physician-assisted suicide. A doctor who helps a patient die or who causes the patient’s death on his own request does not cause that individual harm if she has only a period of life filled with pain left. In conclusion the author indentifies certain points of contact between secular and theistic ethics.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.