Journal of Medical Humanities 14 (3):149-165 (1993)

Susan M. Purviance
University of Toledo
The goal of this paper is to show that Callahan's reasons for withholding life extending care cannot be made out exclusively in terms of contemporary notions of distributive justice and fair allocation. I argue that by relying on a notion of justice which links the merit of the individual with the fairness of a social pattern of shares, Callahan imputes vice to the elderly as he denies them eligibility for life-prolonging care. Aristotle's doctrine of the mean is a useful tool for character evaluation. One can speak meaningfully of a proper disposition of a person of a certain type (an elderly person) with respect to the good of continued life. I claim that the mean of one's disposition with respect to the good of continued life would be relative to one's age group, and would be determined by that principle by which an elderly person of practical wisdom would determine it. This leads to very different conclusions than those drawn by Callahan
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DOI 10.1007/BF01141687
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