Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: A Natural Law Ethics Approach (Live Questions in Ethics and Moral Philosophy)

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9780754657460: Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: A Natural Law Ethics Approach (Live Questions in Ethics and Moral Philosophy)

As medical technology advances and severely injured or ill people can be kept alive and functioning long beyond what was previously medically possible, the debate surrounding the ethics of end-of-life care and quality-of-life issues has grown more urgent. In this lucid and vigorous book, Craig Paterson discusses assisted suicide and euthanasia from a fully fledged but non-dogmatic secular natural law perspective. He rehabilitates and revitalises the natural law approach to moral reasoning by developing a pluralistic account of just why we are required by practical rationality to respect and not violate key demands generated by the primary goods of persons, especially human life. Important issues that shape the moral quality of an action are explained and analysed: intention/foresight; action/omission; action/consequences; killing/letting die; innocence/non-innocence; person/non-person. Paterson defends the central normative proposition that ’it is always a serious moral wrong to intentionally kill an innocent human person, whether self or another, notwithstanding any further appeal to consequences or motive’.

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About the Author:

Craig Paterson is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts (FRSA), a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine and an independent scholar. Previously he was engaged in Information Science research at the University of California, Los Angeles, USA and was previously an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Providence College, USA.

Review:

'At a time when the issues of euthanasia and assisted suicide are before legislators and the courts, and when public debate is dominated by religious advocates and anti-religious secularists, it is particularly welcome to have a careful and well constructed presentation of a purely philosophical defence of the idea that it is always wrong to intentionally kill an innocent person as a means to an end, even an otherwise benign one. Craig Paterson sets out an account of moral reasoning that is of broad interest and shows how it can be applied in cases relating to the end of life. A very clear, useful and timely contribution.' John Haldane, University of St Andrews, UK 'There are few more significant contemporary public policy debates than the debate about whether voluntary euthanasia and/or physician-assisted suicide should be decriminalised. Sadly, much of the literature amounts to little more than an emotional polemic in favour of decriminalisation; there are relatively few books which advance a philosophical case against decriminalisation. This is one of the few. Building on the recent renaissance of natural law theory, the book advances a serious, secular natural law argument against decriminalisation. Not all its arguments will attract universal assent (even from natural law theorists) but the book is, nevertheless, a welcome contribution to the debate.' John Keown, Rose F. Kennedy Professor of Christian Ethics, Georgetown University, USA 'Dr. Paterson is writing on a question of undoubted practical importance - and considerable theoretical importance as well. His argument is dispassionate, thorough, theoretically sophisticated, and usually convincing. In the course of making his case against euthanasia and assisted suicide, he makes a provocative case for a determinedly secular version of natural law. I highly recommend the book to all those interested in either bioethics or natural law moral theory.' Professor Philip Devine, Providence College, USA '...definitely a must for those who intuitively have difficulty accepting arguments based on quality-of-life, personal autonomy or self-ownership as arguments for the decriminalization of assisted suicide and certain forms of euthanasia. Craig Paterson articulates their unease very well.' Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy 'There can be no doubt [...] that the author offers a lucid, rational, complex, and interesting reflection about one of the most delicate topics in the public discussion in contemporary Western society, and that he confronts us with one of the most thorny issues of human existence.' Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics '... the point of this brilliant book is [...] to apply natural law theory to hard cases of assisted suicide and many forms of euthanasia. In fact, this book may be a path to articulate a natural law theory in modernity, using some Kantian intuitions in support of an ultimately Thomistic ethics. For his audacity, clarity and rationality, Craig Paterson's book deserves enthusiastic attention from religious and secular thinkers.' Journal of Moral Philosophy 'There is no doubt that [Paterson's] natural law ethics approach is a welcome contribution to the already-existing literature on this everdeveloping, but controversial and emotive area of the law.' King's Law Journal

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