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Medically Assisted Death

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Overview

Does a competent person suffering from a terminal illness or enduring an otherwise burdensome existence, who considers his life no longer of value but is incapable of ending it, have a right to be helped to die? Should someone for whom further medical treatment would be futile be allowed to die regardless of whether he has expressed a preference to be given all possible treatment? Do the answers to these moral questions have any legal implications? These are some of the questions that are asked and answered in this wide-ranging discussion of both the morality of medically assisted death and the justifiability of making certain instances legal. A case is offered in support of the moral and legal permissibility of specified instances of medically assisted death, along with responses to the main objections that have been levelled against it. The philosophical argument is bolstered by empirical evidence from The Netherlands and Oregon where voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide are already legal.
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Editorial Reviews

Doody's Review Service
Reviewer: Rebecca L Volpe, B.A.(Saint Louis University)
Description: In this book, Robert Young asserts that there is a strong case for legalizing physician-assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia, but that it is neither justifiable nor necessary to make a case for non-voluntary euthanasia. The stated lens of the book is philosophical, but the author does an excellent job of intertwining relevant information from other fields, such as theology, law, and medicine.
Purpose: The purpose is to help change the legal status of medically assisted dying in the author's own country - Australia — and other places throughout the world, through an interdisciplinary examination of medically assisted death. This objective is approached through a carefully developed stance on the philosophical acceptability of medically assisted death, as well as a refreshing consideration of relevant objections and practical hurdles.
Audience: Although this is an essay in applied philosophy, it is intended to be accessible to those from related disciplines as well as those directly involved in the formation of public policy. With its clear writing and oft-stated objectives, the book easily fulfills these aspirations.
Features: The author first lays out the positive argument for medically assisted death, then thoroughly addresses many of the primary objections, including professional integrity, double effect, competence, advance directives, the slippery slope, and the sanctity of human life. A concluding chapter briefly summarizes the argument and finds that voluntary forms of medically assisted death should be made legal in jurisdictions beyond The Netherlands, Oregon, and Belgium. A respectable reference list, a short list of legal cases, and an index of names and subjects help make this book a first-rate reference tool.
Assessment: The author's thorough and precise argument leaves little to be desired from a work of bioethics. The inclusion of information from a wide range of fields represents the interdisciplinary nature of bioethics at its best. Although physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia can be viewed as somewhat overexamined in the bioethics literature, Robert Young articulates his argument in an interesting and refreshingly accessible fashion.
From the Publisher
"...engagingly and clearly written, and contains a number of interesting observations on a range of issues central to the euthanasia debate."
-John Keown, Georgetown University, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"...a carefully and rigorously argued book that is an elegant paradigm of the precise, succinct style of analytical applied ethics...Young's book is an excellent elaboration and critique of arguments on both sides of the issue...Highly recommended"
-R. Werner, Hamilton College, Choice

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521706162
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 10/31/2007
  • Pages: 260
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.63 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Young is Reader in Philosophy at La Trobe University.

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Table of Contents


Acknowledgments     ix
Introduction     1
A case for the legalisation of voluntary medically assisted death     15
Medical futility     29
Physician-assisted suicide     44
The sanctity of human life     61
Killing versus letting die, the doctrine of double effect, and palliative care for the dying     84
Professional integrity and voluntary medically assisted death     113
Competence and end-of-life decision making     137
Advance directives     155
Voluntary medically assisted death and slippery slope arguments     178
Non-voluntary euthanasia     196
Concluding remarks     219
References     222
Index of English-language legal cases     243
Index of names and subjects     244
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