Foot, Philippa, and . Euthanasia

1977, Philosophy and Public Affairs 6 (2):85-112. Reprinted in her Virtues and vices. Oxford: Blackwell.

Comment: This text is of central interest in teaching about moral issues related to euthanasia. The text introduces the vital distinctions between active and passive, voluntary and nonvoluntary euthanasia, and argues in favour of moral permissibility of all but the active nonvoluntary type.

Garcia, Jorge L. A., and . Health versus Harm: Euthanasia and Physicians’ Duties

2007, Journal of Medicine and Philsophy, 31 (1): 7-24.

Abstract: This essay rebuts Gary Seay’s efforts to show that committing euthanasia need not conflict with a physician’s professional duties. First, I try to show how his misunderstanding of the correlativity of rights and duties and his discussion of the foundation of moral rights undermine his case. Second, I show aspects of physicians’ professional duties that clash with euthanasia, and that attempts to avoid this clash lead to absurdities. For professional duties are best understood as deriving from professional virtues and the commitments and purposes with which the professional as such ought to act, and there is no plausible way in which her death can be seen as advancing the patient’s medical welfare. Third, I argue against Prof. Seay’s assumption that apparent conflicts among professional duties must be resolved through ‘balancing’ and argue that, while the physician’s duty to extend life is continuous with her duty to protect health, any duty to relieve pain is subordinate to these. Finally, I show that what is morally determinative here, as throughout the moral life, is the agent’s intention and that Prof. Seay’s implicitly preferred consequentialism threatens not only to distort moral thinking but would altogether undermine the medical (and any other) profession and its internal ethics.

Comment: This text will mostly be of use to advanced students (or courses) focusing on the ethics of physician assisted suicide or euthanasia. It presents a detailed rebuttal to Seay's "Euthanasia and Physicians' Moral Duties," so it will be of most use to students who have read Seay's text or are deeply familiar with defenses of euthanasia based in consequentialist moral reasoning.

Steinbock, Bonnie, and . The Intentional Termination of Life

1979, In Steinbock, Bonnie and Alastair Norcross (eds.), Killing and Letting Die. Fordham University Press.

Content: Steinbock argues that cessation of treatment can be for reasons other than the ending of life, specifically respecting a patient’s right to refuse treatment and when treatment would not be a net benefit. She concludes that the AMA can consistently reject intentional killing and hold that it is sometimes permissible to withdraw treatment without relying on the controversial passive/active euthanasia distinction.

Comment: Very useful chapter for discussion in a module about ethical issues at the end of life.