End-of-life decisions and moral psychology: Killing, letting die, intention and foresight [Book Review]
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
Journal of Bioethical Inquiry 6 (3):337-347 (2009)
In contemplating any life and death moral dilemma, one is often struck by the possible importance of two distinctions; the distinction between killing and “letting die”, and the distinction between an intentional killing and an action aimed at some other outcome that causes death as a foreseen but unintended “side-effect”. Many feel intuitively that these distinctions are morally significant, but attempts to explain why this might be so have been unconvincing. In this paper, I explore the problem from an explicitly consequentialist point of view. I first review and endorse the arguments that the distinctions cannot be drawn with perfect clarity, and that they do not have the kind of fundamental significance required to defend an absolute prohibition on killing. I go on to argue that the distinctions are nonetheless important. A complete consequentialist account of morality must include a consideration of our need and ability to construct and follow rules; our instincts about these rules; and the consequences (to the agent and to others) that might follow if the agent breaks a good general rule, particularly if this involves acting contrary to moral instinct. With this perspective, I suggest that the distinctions between killing and letting die and between intending and foreseeing do have moral relevance, especially for those involved in the care of the sick and dying.
|Keywords||Intention Double effect principle Euthanasia Withholding treatment Terminal care|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
Neil Francis Delaney (2008). Two Cheers for “Closeness”: Terror, Targeting and Double Effect. Philosophical Studies 137 (3):335 - 367.
Charles Douglas, Ian Kerridge & Rachel Ankeny (2008). Managing Intentions: The End-of-Life Administration of Analgesics and Sedatives, and the Possibility of Slow Euthanasia. Bioethics 22 (7):388-396.
Philippa Foot (1967). The Problem of Abortion and the Doctrine of Double Effect. Oxford Review 5:5-15.
Grant Gillett (1994). Killing, Letting Die and Moral Perception. Bioethics 8 (4):312–328.
Joshua Greene (2005). 19 Cognitive Neuroscience and the Structure of the Moral Mind. In Peter Carruthers, Stephen Laurence & Stephen P. Stich (eds.), The Innate Mind. Oxford University Press. 1--338.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
R. Gillon (1988). Euthanasia, Withholding Life-Prolonging Treatment, and Moral Differences Between Killing and Letting Die. Journal of Medical Ethics 14 (3):115-117.
Carla Kary (1980). A Moral Distinction Between Killing and Letting Die. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 5 (4):326-332.
Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen (1999). Life-Prolonging Killings and Their Relevance to Ethics. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 2 (2):135-147.
James Rachels (2001). Killing and Letting Die. In Lawrence C. Becker Mary Becker & Charlotte Becker (eds.), Encyclopedia of Ethics, 2nd edition. Routledge.
F. M. Kamm (2001). Ronald Dworkin on Abortion and Assisted Suicide. Journal of Ethics 5 (3):221-240.
Gary M. Atkinson (1983). Ambiguities in 'Killing' and 'Letting Die'. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 8 (2):159-168.
Craig Paterson (2010). Review of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: A Natural Law Ethics Approach. [REVIEW] Ethics and Medicine 26 (1):23-4.
Matthew Hanser (1995). Why Are Killing and Letting Die Wrong? Philosophy and Public Affairs 24 (3):175–201.
Helen Frowe (forthcoming). Killing John to Save Mary: A Defence of the Distinction Between Killing and Letting Die. In J. Campbell, M. O’Rourke & H. Silverstein (eds.), Action, Ethics and Responsibility. MIT Press.
Joachim Asscher (2008). The Moral Distinction Between Killing and Letting Die in Medical Cases. Bioethics 22 (5):278–285.
Added to index2009-08-01
Total downloads74 ( #19,952 of 1,099,536 )
Recent downloads (6 months)6 ( #49,371 of 1,099,536 )
How can I increase my downloads?