Death in Our Life

22 Pages Posted: 29 May 2012 Last revised: 4 Dec 2013

See all articles by Joseph Raz

Joseph Raz

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law; Columbia University - Law School; King's College London - The Dickson Poon School of Law

Date Written: May 28, 2012


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.

Keywords: death, value of life, euthanasia, suicide, legal & moral rights, conscientious exception

Suggested Citation

Raz, Joseph, Death in Our Life (May 28, 2012). Oxford Legal Studies Research Paper No. 25/2012, Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 12-305, Available at SSRN: or

Joseph Raz (Contact Author)

University of Oxford - Faculty of Law ( email )

St. Cross Building
St. Cross Road
Oxford, OX1 3UJ
United Kingdom


Columbia University - Law School ( email )

435 West 116th Street
New York, NY 10025
United States


King's College London - The Dickson Poon School of Law ( email )

Somerset House East Wing
London, WC2R 2LS
United Kingdom

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Abstract Views
PlumX Metrics