suicide, physician assisted suicide, the doing allowing distinction and double effect



  • It is likely that most philosophers view suicide as a legitimate exercise of autonomy, while most physicians would decline to participate in physician assisted suicide (PAS). This chapter surveys recent discussion supporting and opposing PAS. Highlighted are two argumentative strategies essential to PAS opponents: the doctrine of doing and allowing (the DDA) and the doctrine of double effect (the DDE). Opponents of PAS claim that the DDA and the DDE can specify a moral difference between PAS and common medical practices. Once PAS is thus set apart, the case against it rests upon its incompatibility with the patient’s moral status or with the physician’s role. Some supporters of PAS deny that the DDA and the DDE can morally distinguish licit and illicit actor contributions to negative outcomes. Without the aid of the DDA and the DDE, PAS must be morally assimilated to withdrawal of support and terminal sedation and opponents of PAS who accept these common medical practices must be deemed to be inconsistent. Other advocates of PAS accept the DDA, the DDE, or both, but deny their bearing on PAS, holding that death for the terminally ill patient requesting it is not a negative outcome. The author concludes that the DDA and the DDE have so far withstood the objections of their critics but that opponents of PAS are now on the defensive insofar as their opposition relies upon asserting the inviolability of human life or an incompatibility of PAS with medical practice.
  • Authors

    International Standard Book Number (isbn) 10

  • 1138829757
  • International Standard Book Number (isbn) 13

  • 978-1138829756
  • Start Page

  • 1
  • End Page

  • 262