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Would the Permitting of Physician Assisted Suicide be a Desirable Extension of Patient Choice?

Stanners, Andrew John (2017) Would the Permitting of Physician Assisted Suicide be a Desirable Extension of Patient Choice? PhD thesis, University of Leeds.

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This dissertation argues that the permitting of Physician Assisted Suicide (PAS) is not a desirable extension of patient choice. Should PAS be made permissible by making it a live option, then certain patients may request it and be harmed by wrongful death. Furthermore, the harm to patients who suffer wrongful death as a result of requesting PAS trumps the harm to patients who must endure unbearable suffering should PAS not be permitted. The line of argument in defence of these claims is, first, that contrary to the common view, agents may sometimes be harmed when they are presented with an additional option. Second, the harm that may result from having an additional option occurs as a result of certain features of the agent or the context in which the agent is choosing. This second argument goes beyond previous ones because it explains two additional harms to an agent from a new option. These are harms resulting from three types of weak character and resulting from normative features of what I term the context of choice. Third, in order to decide whether or not to extend patient choice by permitting PAS, the harm to patients who may request it and suffer wrongful death and the harm to patients who are suffering unbearably and who cannot relieve their suffering through PAS must be weighed against one another. This weighing of harms is possible through insights gained from types of need. Categorical needs trump instrumental ones, and are also parallel to categorical harms. So, the categorical harm of wrongful death trumps lesser harms, such as suffering unbearably. Since the harm to patients who suffer wrongful death, should PAS be permitted, trumps the harm to other patients who are suffering unbearably, permitting PAS is not a desirable extension of patient choice.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Assisted Suicide, Character, Context, Harm.
Academic Units: The University of Leeds > Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures (Leeds) > School of Philosophy, Religion and the History of Science
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.721837
Depositing User: Dr Andrew John Stanners
Date Deposited: 04 Sep 2017 12:26
Last Modified: 25 Jul 2018 09:55
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/18051

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