Assisted suicide: theory and practice in elective death

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Humanity Books, 1999 - Medical - 223 pages
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Court cases in the United States & Canada, & attendant media coverage, have transformed assisted suicide from an unspoken practice to a pressing social issue. Assisted suicide has joined abortion as one of the major & most intractable issues of our time, & recent developments indicate that despite setbacks, an aging population & resultant changes in social values will foster wider acceptance of assisted suicide & its eventual legalization. Contrary to the impression conveyed by current media coverage, legalization is actually not the central issue regarding assisted suicide. The debate is about sanctioning a current, albeit limited, practice. The debate is about removing criminal prohibitions, not about initiating a practice. Assisted suicide is practiced now regardless of its illegality. The truly important questions are about whether suicide ever makes good sense, whether assisting suicide is ever permissible. And if so, what professional ethics should govern its provision. Like abortion, assisted suicide raises questions which pose profound moral, social, & political dilemmas. Effective ethical guidance for assisted suicide is not lacking for want of effort: it is lacking because of conflict & dissent. Arguments about it arise from a class of divergent conceptions of personal autonomy & the nature of human life. The hard fact that assisted suicide is practiced regardless of its legality makes questions about the ethics that govern it pressing. Prado & Taylor aim to enable compromise between ethical theoreticians & clinicians about the provision of assisted suicide by clarifying what is most at issue in their argument. Prado & Taylor do not agree: one spends his working time pondering epistemological questions & the other spends her working time forging ethical answers. Their collaboration results in a constructive exploration of the issue of assisted suicide. CONTENTS * Theory & Practice * Criteria for Rational Suicide * A Genuine, Unimpaired Choice * Accessible Motivation * The Interest in Survival * The Slippery Slope * A Recapitulation * New Decision * Bibliography

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Criteria for Rational Suicide
A Genuine Unimpaired Choice
Accessible Motivation
The Interest in Survival
The Slippery Slope
A Recapitulation
New Decisions

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About the author (1999)

C. G. Prado is Professor Emeritus in the philosophy department at Queen's University, in Kingston, Ontario. A recipient of grants and fellowships from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canada Council, and Queen's University, he is the author and editor of many articles and books, including A House Divided: Comparing Analytic and Continental Philosophers and Illusions of Faith: A Critique of Noncredal Religions.

Taylor is a bioethicist in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen's University and a clinical ethicist at the Kingston General Hospital.