Death by Request

L.W. Sumner

in Assisted Death

Published in print July 2011 | ISBN: 9780199607983
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191729652 | DOI:
Death by Request

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The focus in this chapter is on the ethics of assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia. The positive argument for the justifiability of these measures rests on the two foundational values of patient well‐being and autonomy. Counterarguments appealing to the sanctity of life and the right to life are then outlined and rejected. Finally, the Doctrine of Doing and Allowing is explored as a possible means of distinguishing between permissible ‘passive’ means of hastening death and impermissible ‘active’ ones. Three conclusions are drawn: (1) the Doctrine has no application to these end‐of‐life cases since it assumes that death is invariably a harm; (2) the concept of causation does not allow a bright line to be drawn between permissible and impermissible measures; and (3) in these end‐of‐life contexts the doing/allowing distinction makes no ethical difference.

Keywords: assisted suicide; voluntary euthanasia; sanctity of life; right to life; causation; doing/allowing

Chapter.  15845 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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