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The Dangers of Euthanasia and Dementia: How Kantian Thinking Might Be Used to Support Non‐Voluntary Euthanasia in Cases of Extreme Dementia

5 Pages Posted: 12 May 2012  

Robert Sharp

Muskingum College

Date Written: June 2012

Abstract

Some writers have argued that a Kantian approach to ethics can be used to justify suicide in cases of extreme dementia, where a patient lacks the rationality required of Kantian moral agents. I worry that this line of thinking may lead to the more extreme claim that euthanasia is a proper Kantian response to severe dementia (and similar afflictions). Such morally treacherous thinking seems to be directly implied by the arguments that lead Dennis Cooley and similar writers to claim that Kant might support suicide. If rationality is the only factor in valuing a human life, then the loss of that rationality (however such loss might be defined) would allow us to use essentially utilitarian thinking in order to support non‐voluntary euthanasia, since the patients themselves would no longer be moral agents that demand respect.

Keywords: Kant, euthanasia, bioethics, dementia, non‐voluntary, suicide, assisted suicide, deontology, rational agents

Suggested Citation

Sharp, Robert, The Dangers of Euthanasia and Dementia: How Kantian Thinking Might Be Used to Support Non‐Voluntary Euthanasia in Cases of Extreme Dementia (June 2012). Bioethics, Vol. 26, Issue 5, pp. 231-235, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2056126 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8519.2011.01951.x

Robert Sharp (Contact Author)

Muskingum College ( email )

United States

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