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In 1988, feminist scholar Peggy McIntosh published a controversial essay, White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondences through Work on Women’s Studies. A shortened version, White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack, was published in 1989. In these articles, McIntosh outlines her understanding of the concept of privilege in her life in the 1970s and 1980s.

Read the article here: White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh

Below is a sample discussion post for you to model your future posts off of, along with some sample replies to discussion posts that should also serve as models for your replies to your classmates’ posts. This is the type of quality, format, and content that I expect of every discussion post and reply that you make. You will also find this at the top of every single discussion thread as a reference/model for you to use when making your posts.

Module 1 Sample Discussion Post – “Beyond Life: Managing Your Right to Die”

In this video, Dr. Allan Saxe discusses his perspective on physician-assisted suicide and a patient’s right to die at the end of life to avoid needless suffering. Dr. Saxe speaks very favorably of this end-of-life option, and he likens physician-assisted suicide to compassionate euthanasia of pets. He argues that if we’re going to ease the suffering of our pets this way, why will we not also allow it for people who voluntarily want to end their life prematurely to avoid suffering at the end of life? He also draws a comparison to Texas’ law on capital punishment, stating that there is something wrong with the State being able to end someone’s life as retribution for a crime, but individuals not being allowed to end their own life to avoid suffering at the end of life.

While many conflate the terms of active euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, these are two completely different acts with differing moral components. Where active euthanasia is the active termination of a patient’s life by the physician, physician-assisted suicide is where “the physician merely prescribes the lethal medication without administering it himself or herself” (Mackinnon and Fiala 2018, 206). Those in favor of physician-assisted suicide generally point to the moral obligation to respect patient autonomy as a fundamental reason that we should allow this practice. Autonomy is defined as self-rule/self-determination, and in applied ethics there is a significant moral obligation in Western societies to respect patient autonomy in capacitated patients, especially when it comes to the patient’s bodily autonomy, or the decisions about what happens to one’s own body (Mackinnon and Fiala 2018, 215-216).

For this reason, I agree with the Dr. Saxe’s moral arguments in favor of physician-assisted suicide. Patients own their own bodies, and as long as they have decision-making capacity and can give adequate, explicit informed consent to the procedure, patients should be able to dictate their death via the assistance of willing physicians providing them with the means to perform this act.

References:

Mackinnon, B. & Fiala, A. Ethics: Theory and contemporary issues. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2018.

Sample Replies to a Classmate’s Discussion Post

(1) Excellent post, Jordan! I also agree with Dr. Saxe’s moral arguments, as it seems strange and paternalistic that the State can determine what people can and cannot do with their own bodies, especially regarding something as intimate and important as one’s death. I think that as long as there are robust informed consent processes prior to undergoing physician-assisted suicide, this is an ethically justifiable practice that should be legalized. Do you think that all U.S. states will eventually legally allow physician-assisted suicide?

(2) Respectfully, Jordan, I must disagree with your post. While perhaps physician-assisted suicide itself is not bad, I believe that there are serious concerns regarding physician-assisted suicide potentially being a “slippery slope” into more nefarious and immoral practices, such as active euthanasia and/or involuntary active euthanasia of the mentally ill. Are you not concerned that legalization of physician-assisted suicide could lead into more problematic practices later on?

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