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
Ezio Di Nucci
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 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
Thomas Scanlon (2008). Moral Dimensions: Permissibility, Meaning, Blame. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Marc Hauser (2006). Moral Minds: How Nature Designed Our Universal Sense of Right and Wrong. Harper Collins.
Philippa Foot (1967). The Problem of Abortion and the Doctrine of Double Effect. Oxford Review 5:5-15.
James Rachels (2009). Active and Passive Euthanasia. In Steven M. Cahn (ed.), Exploring Philosophy: An Introductory Anthology. Oxford University Press
Citations of this work BETA
Steven A. Trankle (2014). Decisions That Hasten Death: Double Effect and the Experiences of Physicians in Australia. BMC Medical Ethics 15 (1):26.
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.
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
Matthew Hanser (1995). Why Are Killing and Letting Die Wrong? Philosophy and Public Affairs 24 (3):175–201.
Craig Paterson (2010). Review of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: A Natural Law Ethics Approach. [REVIEW] Ethics and Medicine 26 (1):23-4.
Gary M. Atkinson (1983). Ambiguities in 'Killing' and 'Letting Die'. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 8 (2):159-168.
F. M. Kamm (2001). Ronald Dworkin on Abortion and Assisted Suicide. Journal of Ethics 5 (3):221-240.
James Rachels (2001). Killing and Letting Die. In Lawrence C. Becker Mary Becker & Charlotte Becker (eds.), Encyclopedia of Ethics, 2nd Edition. Routledge
Kasper Lippert-Rasmussen (1999). Life-Prolonging Killings and Their Relevance to Ethics. Ethical Theory and Moral Practice 2 (2):135-147.
Carla Kary (1980). A Moral Distinction Between Killing and Letting Die. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 5 (4):326-332.
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 downloads95 ( #43,408 of 1,907,220 )
Recent downloads (6 months)5 ( #160,519 of 1,907,220 )
How can I increase my downloads?