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Introducing Political PhilosophyA Policy-Driven Approach

Introducing Political Philosophy: A Policy-Driven Approach (1st edn)

Andrew Walton, William Abel, Elizabeth Kahn, and Tom Parr
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date: 20 April 2024

p. 132. Euthanasia and Freedomlocked

p. 132. Euthanasia and Freedomlocked

  • William Abel,
  • Elizabeth Kahn,
  • Tom Parr
  •  and Andrew Walton


This chapter examines whether the state should permit an individual to end their own life. Physician-assisted suicide is only one way in which a doctor can hasten an individual’s death. In fact there are three ways in which a doctor may act. First, they can be passive by allowing an individual to die. Second, they can assist an individual by enabling them to bring about their own death. Third, they can be active in hastening an individual’s death by administering life-ending medication. The chapter argues that a doctor should be permitted to assist an individual to end their own life, as well as to intervene to hasten their death. It supports this view by appealing to the value of freedom, specifically the freedom to choose how to live and die. The chapter then considers the worry that it is wrong for the state to allow a doctor to assist an individual to end their life, since this is an affront to the sanctity of life. It outlines some implications of this argument for the design of public policy.

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