Out of the three anti-euthanasia articles that I have thus far analyzed, two share a similar pattern. Both the American Medical Association's “Opinion 2.21 – Euthanasia” and William F. May's “Rising to the Occasion of Our Death” utilize values as objects of agreement, or grounds of a proposed policy (value judgements). According to Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca’s “Facts, Values, and Hierarchies” piece, objects of agreements serve the premises and focus on finding common ground – or “what is supposed to be accepted by the hearers [to get the] agreement of the audience” (Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca 65). Since euthanasia is an ethical subject, value-based arguments are abundant in terms of policy arguments.
Both May and the AMA appeal to the morality of their audiences in order to convince them to act against active euthanasia, defined by May as “mercy killings” and by the AMA as the “administration of a lethal agent by another person to a patient for the purpose of relieving the patient’s intolerable and incurable suffering” ("Opinion 2.21 – Euthanasia."). More specifically, they are appealing to the value of what is “good” for the individual suffering, for their loved ones, and for society.
Their appeals to values are not simply opinions, however; this appeal can actually be treated as a fact or a truth. Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca qualify that in order for a value to be taken as a truth or fact, it must be universally acknowledged, and in order for it to be universally acknowledged, it must be vague. “It is by virtue of their being vague,” these authors proclaim, “that these values appear as universal values and lay claim to a status similar to that of facts” (Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca 76). Nevertheless, there are essentially four main criteria to quantify if an argument uses values as objects of agreement:
Values are preferable.
Values are arguable to particular audiences.
Values are typically argued in hierarchies.
Values promote action. (Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca 65-76)
If a value is preferable, it is connected with a specific viewpoint. It is also only arguable to a particular audience (the actual audience addressed) instead of a universal one (Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca 66). Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca declare that “the existence of values, as to particular ways of acting, is connected with the idea of multiplicity of groups” (Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca 66). They further go on to claim that “one appeals to values in order to induce the hearer to make certain choices rather than others and, most of all, to justify those choices so that they may be accepted and approved by others” (Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca 75). This is an example of a value hierarchy, where some “values are adhered to with different degrees of intensity, but the audience admits principles by which the values can be graded” (Perelman and Olbrechts-Tyteca 80). Often, the hierarchies permit the values to be independent of each...