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Human Rights and Common GoodCollected Essays Volume III$
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John Finnis

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199580071

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199580071.001.0001

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Euthanasia and Justice

Euthanasia and Justice

(p.211) 14 Euthanasia and Justice
Human Rights and Common Good

John Finnis

Oxford University Press

This chapter brings together the three phases of a rolling debate with John Harris about the justifiability of euthanasia. The senses of ‘euthanasia’ are carefully distinguished; the defining importance of intention is underlined and illustrated, and intention's moral significance is explored. The moral wrongness of choosing to terminate life is argued for as an implication of the reality of personhood and good of life even in the very young, very ill, or very old. The individuality of the early conceptus and the significance of radical capacity are explained against Harris's misunderstandings. The idea of the person in Harris and in Dworkin is discussed, as well as Dworkin's concept of critical interests. The final phases of the debate concern voluntary verses involuntary euthanasia, responsibility for side effects, the idea that some people ‘should die’, the dualism involved in denying radical capacity's significance, and the unfair implications of autonomous choices to be killed.

Keywords:   euthanasia, intention, personhood, individuals, radical capacity, Dworkin, John Harris, critical interests, autonomy, side effects

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