Physician‐Assisted Death: the State of the Debate

Gerald Dworkin

in The Oxford Handbook of Bioethics

Published in print February 2009 | ISBN: 9780199562411
Published online September 2009 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Philosophy

Physician‐Assisted Death: the State of the Debate

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The essential outlines of the debate over voluntary euthanasia have not changed very much since Glanville Williams and Yale Kamisar debated the issues almost fifty years ago. On the one hand, there is an appeal to considerations of autonomy and the relief of suffering: individuals should be able to choose the timing and mode of their dying and they should not have to suffer from pain and other modes of indignity such as incontinence, paralysis, muscular wastage, and mental deterioration. So far these would only generate a right or permission to take one's own life, but when we consider the problems in the context of end-of-life medical care and the uncontroversial duty of physicians to relieve the suffering of their patients we get a claim to assistance in dying.

Keywords: voluntary euthanasia; autonomy; mode of dying; end-of-life medical care; physician's duty; relief of suffering

Article.  8595 words. 

Subjects: Philosophy ; Philosophy of Science ; Moral Philosophy

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