What Is Euthanasia?

Wrongfully prolonged life can be as tragic an error as wrongfully terminated life. In life's unhappier end games, there can be no 'safe side' to err on.

- Joel Feinberg, Harm to Self

Podcast of the Day

A study of Australian surgeons found that 36% of reported giving drugs at doses higher than necessary to relieve suffering, but also aware that this would hasten the death of the patient. This week, with euthanasia back on the public agenda, The Philosopher's Zone takes on the doctrine of double effect: the ethics of doing good and, perhaps bad, at the same time. We're joined this week by a cancer surgeon and a medical ethicist, to explore this grey area.

Listen to The Philosopher's Zone episode on Doing Good and Causing Harm: Euthanasia and the Doctrine of Double Effect

Video of the Day

Short Article of the Day

"Death is inevitable, but suffering doesn’t have to be,” says Tennessee native John Jay Hooker, who has devoted his life to fighting for civil liberties, and hasn’t let his deadly cancer stand in his way. This past summer, he filed a lawsuit against his state to sue for the right to die on his own terms.

If you found out that you were going to die from a progressive, painful, and debilitating disease–say Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer disease, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig disease) or cancer, would you want someone to tell you that you couldn’t end it all? Even when you could not face the pain and suffering anymore? As long as the decision was truly yours and made while you were mentally competent, before the progression of disease may have made this impossible, would you want some governmental entity telling you that you couldn’t?

Swift, dramatic progress in science has given us the ability to save lives and treat disease more effectively than ever before. However, this same technology has provided the power to prolong the lives of those whose physical and mental conditions are irreversible, and who experience intractable pain...

Continue reading Janice L. Berliner's article: Compassion or Compromise? The Ethics of Assisted Suicide

Further Reading

When a person carries out an act of euthanasia, she brings about the death of another person because she believes the latter's present existence is so bad that he would be better off dead, or believes that unless she intervenes and ends his life, his life will become so bad that he would be better off dead. Thus, the motive of the person who commits an act of euthanasia is to benefit the one whose death is brought about. (This also holds for many instances of physician-assisted suicide, but some wish to restrict the use of the latter term to forms of assistance which stop short of the physician ‘bringing about the death’ of the patient, for example, those involving mechanical means that have to be activated by the patient.)...

Continue reading the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on Voluntary Euthanasia by Robert Young

Related Topics

If you’re interested in the ethics of euthanasia, check out some of the following related topics for more resources:

Ageing | Ethics | Immortality

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