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Mercy Killing Ethics

Mercy Killing Ethics

Mercy killing refers to the act of inducing death to a person suffering from unending pain or chronic illness. In the scenario provided, Officer Smith is on fire and asks Officer Jones to shoot him in the head to prevent him from suffering from pain. Arguing whether or not it would be morally appropriate depends on the moral standards guiding mercy killing. The argument can be based on existing ethical theories. In this regard, analyzing the scenario from the perspectives of two different theories and delving into personal thoughts would help expound on how Officer Jones would act in the given situation.

Part One: Applying Two Theories to Explain How Officer Jones Would Act in Each Scenario

Generally, ethical theories can be defined as ideas that provide a basis for what is right and what is wrong. The ethical theories can be generally classified into two, including the consequentialism theories and the non-consequentialism theories. Consequentialism theory argues that morality is determined by the overall outcome, and if the outcome is good, then the action is morally right. An example of consequentialism theory is the utilitarianism theory, which emphasizes overall happiness. The theory suggests that as long as the action produces pleasure or happiness, then it is considered morally right (Mulgan, 2019). For instance, if a person tells a lie to make the other one happy, it would considered morally right as the end goal is happiness. Based on this theory, Officer Jones would be allowed to shoot Officer Smith since it would spare Smith from agonizing pain, and they would be both happy. From a personal perspective, I tend to disagree with this theory because it appears biased since actions are judged based on the outcomes rather than what the law states.

On the other hand, the non-consequentialism theory suggests that morality is determined by how actions align with the set rules/guidelines. An example is the deontology theory, which emphasizes the importance of rules and principles in ethical decision-making. The theory suggests that actions may be right or wrong regardless of the consequence (Tseng & Wang, 2021). For instance, if a person steals money to help the poor, it would considered immoral, and the person would be punished as stealing is illegal. In this case, it would be unethical for Officer Jones to shoot Officer Smith because the Euthanasia law does not allow them to conduct mercy killing. I agree with this theory since the morality of actions can be easily determined by the set principles and rules.

Part Two: Personal Thoughts on the Situation

In the scenario of Officer Smith and Officer Jones, it would be inappropriate for Jones to shoot Officer Smith. Mercy killings are mostly illegal and only allowed in specific situations and after comprehensive consent from patients/proxies. In this situation, no law would allow mercy killing, and therefore, it would be unethical. Therefore, the best action would be to seek emergency help and wait for Smith to be rescued rather than shoot him in the head.


In summary, mercy killing is unlawful and only allowed in some specific situations. The ethical arguments on whether Jones should shoot Smith in the head is determined by the ethical theories. Ethical theories can either be consequential or non-consequential. A consequential theory is the utilitarianism theory, which suggests that the action is morally right as long as the outcome is acceptable. In this case, Jones would be morally right to shoot Smith and make him happy. On the other hand, the non-consequential includes the deontological theory, which suggests that morality is determined by how the actions are aligned to the rules and principles. In this case, it would be considered immoral for Jones to shoot Smith since the law would not allow mercy killing.


Mulgan, T. (2019). Utilitarianism. Cambridge University Press.

Tseng, P. E., & Wang, Y. H. (2021). Deontological or utilitarian? An eternal ethical dilemma in the outbreak. International journal of environmental research and public health18(16), 8565.


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Step 1: Read the following Background

It is late at night, and two police officers, Smith and Jones (longtime partners), are involved in a high-speed chase that has taken them several miles from a metropolitan area. Officer Smith, who is driving, loses control of the car, and the car rolls several times before coming to a stop. He is trapped in the car, and the car has caught fire. Officer Jones, who suffered only minor injuries, has called for help and is desperately struggling to free the driver. As the fire worsens, Officer Smith begs Officer Jones to shoot him in the head so he will not suffer the agonizing pain and horror of burning to death. It is late at night, no one is around to assist, and both officers realize that it will be several minutes before help arrives.

Mercy Killing Ethics

Mercy Killing Ethics

Step 2: Write a 500+ word paper answering the following prompts:

Part 1: Using one theory that you have studied that you agree with and one theory that you disagree with, describe how Officer Jones would act in each case.

Part 2: Describe your thoughts on the situation. Expound not only on this situation but on the concepts you are reading about this week.

Be specific and give examples, using at least two outside references, to buttress your argument. Cite all sources in APA format.

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