Death in Our Life
University of Oxford - Faculty of Law; Columbia University - Law School
May 28, 2012
Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper No. 25/2012
Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 12-305
This is the text of the Annual Lecture of the Society for Applied Philosophy, delivered in Oxford on 22-5-12. I kept the talk style of the paper. It examines a central aspect of the relations between duration and quality of life by considering the moral right to voluntary euthanasia, and some aspects of the moral case for a legal right to euthanasia. Would widespread acceptance of a right to voluntary euthanasia lead to widespread changes in attitude to life and death? Many of its advocates deny that seeing it as a narrow right enabling people to avoid ending their life in great pain or total dependence, or a vegetative state. I argue that the right cannot cogently be conceived as a narrow right, confined to very limited circumstances. It is based on the value of having the normative power to choose time and manner of one’s death. Its recognition will be accompanied by far reaching changes in culture and attitude, and these changes will enrich people’s life by enabling them to integrate their death as part of their lives.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 22
Keywords: death, value of life, euthanasia, suicide, legal & moral rights, conscientious exceptionworking papers series
Date posted: May 29, 2012 ; Last revised: October 29, 2012
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