Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Against Absolute Goodness$
Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content.

Richard Kraut

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199844463

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199844463.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy).date: 16 July 2019



Chapter 26 Euthanasia
Against Absolute Goodness

Richard Kraut

Oxford University Press

The intrinsic value of human life was cited in a 1990 decision of the U.S. Supreme Court (Cruzan v. Director, Missouri Department of Health) as one legitimate basis on which a state can forbid medical personnel from withdrawing life-sustaining support from a patient who has fallen into a persistent vegetative state. According to Justices Rehnquist and Scalia, even when it is contrary to the interests of those who are in this condition to continue to live, a state can legitimately prevent others from letting them die or killing them, because human lives have intrinsic value. As Ronald Dworkin reports their opinions, they held that “it is intrinsically a bad thing when anyone dies deliberately and prematurely.” The lives of human beings “have intrinsic value, even if it is not in their own interests to continue living.” The concept of intrinsic value being employed here is what has been referred to as absolute goodness. To assess the cogency of the reasoning of the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the permissibility of euthanasia, we must decide whether absolute goodness is a reason-giving property.

Keywords:   human life, intrinsic value, absolute goodness, Ronald Dworkin, reason-giving property

Oxford Scholarship Online requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books within the service. Public users can however freely search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter.

Please, subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

To troubleshoot, please check our FAQs , and if you can't find the answer there, please contact us .