Theory and Practice in Elective Death
By C. G. Prado
(Humanity Books, Hardcover, 9781573926348, 216pp.)
Publication Date: July 1, 1999
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
Court cases in the United States and Canada, and attendant media coverage, have transformed assisted suicide from an unspoken practice to a pressing social issue. Assisted suicide has joined abortion as one of the major and most intractable issues of our time. Behind the rhetoric of public debate, the truly important questions are whether assisted suicide ever makes good sense, whether assisting suicide should ever be permissible, and if so, what professional ethics should govern its provision.
Effective ethical guidance for assisted suicide is not lacking for want of effort, but rather because of conflict and dissent. Arguments about it arise from divergent conceptions of personal autonomy and the nature of human life. The hard fact that assisted suicide is practiced regardless of its legality makes questions about the ethics that govern it all the more urgent.
Professors Prado and Taylor strive to achieve a compromise between ethical theoreticians and clinicians by clarifying what is most at issue in their arguments. Among the topics of their discussion are the criteria for rational suicide; making a genuine, unimpaired choice; and the problem of the slippery slope. Though they do not agree, their collaboration results in a constructive exploration of one of the most difficult ethical dilemmas of our time.
C.G. Prado is professor of philosophy at Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario.
Sandra Taylor is a bioethicist in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Queen's University and a clinical ethicist at the Kingston General Hospital.