Euthanasia and the good life: why euthanasia is (sometimes) ethical

Authors: David Černý
Authors‘ workplace: Kabinet zdravotnického práva a bioetiky Ústavu státu a práva AV ČR, v. v. i., Praha
Published in: Vnitř Lék 2018; 64(3): 236-244
Category: Reviews


In this paper I present the strongest argument, in my opinion, in favour of moral admissibility of euthanasia. In the introduction I briefly mention two important arguments in support of euthanasia – out of respect for autonomy and as a last act of grace, however I refuse them as insufficient. I propose a definition of both forms of assisted death: euthanasia and assisted suicide. I present the basic ideas underlying the theory of the good life and deal with hedonism in greater depth. I define a deprivation concept of the badness of death and, employing hedonism, I specifically describe when death is bad and when it is good. Next I present consequentialism and utilitarianism and show how it is possible to proceed from the reflections on the good life and badness of death toward the concrete normative conclusions about euthanasia. In conclusion I extend my reflections also to other theories of the good life, such as preferentialism or the theory of objective desire and the objective pluralistic theory. The paper arrives at the defense of the thesis that there exist situations in medical practice in which euthanasia presents a morally acceptable choice.

Key words:
concept of badness of death – consequentialism – deprivation – desire-fulfilment theory – euthanasia – hedonism – preferentialism – utilitarianism


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