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THE DANGERS OF EUTHANASIA AND DEMENTIA: HOW KANTIAN THINKING MIGHT BE USED TO SUPPORT NON‐VOLUNTARY EUTHANASIA IN CASES OF EXTREME DEMENTIA

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Abstract:

ABSTRACT

Some writers have argued that a Kantian approach to ethics can be used to justify suicide in cases of extreme dementia, where a patient lacks the rationality required of Kantian moral agents. I worry that this line of thinking may lead to the more extreme claim that euthanasia is a proper Kantian response to severe dementia (and similar afflictions). Such morally treacherous thinking seems to be directly implied by the arguments that lead Dennis Cooley and similar writers to claim that Kant might support suicide. If rationality is the only factor in valuing a human life, then the loss of that rationality (however such loss might be defined) would allow us to use essentially utilitarian thinking in order to support non‐voluntary euthanasia, since the patients themselves would no longer be moral agents that demand respect.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-8519.2011.01951.x

Affiliations: Muskingum University in Ohio (USA)

Publication date: June 1, 2012

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