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Ending LifeEthics and the Way We Die$
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Margaret Pabst Battin

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195140279

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195140279.001.0001

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(p.113) 6 Robeck
Ending Life

Margaret Pabst Battin

Oxford University Press

This is a short fiction about an old couple's determination to shape the timing and character of their suicide. Bioethics recognizes narrative as a respected form of investigation — including narrative in both nonfiction first-person accounts and in fictional constructions. Fiction may preserve certain early intuitions about issues like autonomy, beneficence, paternalism, respect for persons, and ending life that are hard to capture in bioethics' academic discussions. Whatever may be assumed in other quarters, fiction and its close cousin creative nonfiction are not irrelevant to theory. The academic essays presented in this book are in general strongly autonomist, rooted in the view that a person should be free to live his or her life as he or she sees fit, provided, of course, that this does not cause substantial harm to others. But this short story serves to complicate this view by showing that the issue of autonomy is not a simple matter at all.

Keywords:   bioethics, autonomy, fiction, suicide, narrative

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