Against the Right to Die
Velleman (David)
Source: Retrieved from, 31/05/2015
Paper - Abstract

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Author’s Introduction

  1. For some patients, a right to receive euthanasia will not enhance autonomy in the morally relevant sense. Even if these patients choose wisely whether to exercise their right to die, they will still be harmed by having been given it. Perhaps, then, physicians should have permission to administer voluntary euthanasia, but patients should not have a right to receive it. In this paper I offer an argument against establishing an institutional right to die, but I do not consider how my argument fares against countervailing considerations, and so I do not draw any final conclusion on the subject. The argument laid out in this paper has certainly inhibited me from favoring a right to die, and it has also led me to recoil from many of the arguments offered for such a right. But I am very far from an all-things-considered judgment.
  2. My argument is addressed to a question of public policy – namely, whether the law or the canons of medical practice should include a rule requiring, under specified circumstances, that caregivers honor a patient's request to be allowed or perhaps even helped to die. This question is distinct from the question whether anyone is ever morally entitled to be allowed or helped to die. I believe that the answer to the latter question is yes, but I doubt whether our moral obligation to facilitate some people's deaths is best discharged through the establishment of an institutional right to die.


2004. See; downloaded 31/05/2015.

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