Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide (For and Against)

Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide (For and Against)

Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide (For and Against)

The moral issues involved in doctors assisting patients to die with dignity are of absolutely central concern to the medical profession, ethicists, and the public at large. The debate is fueled by cases that extend way beyond passive euthanasia to the active consideration of killing by physicians. The need for a sophisticated but lucid exposition of the two sides of the argument is now urgent. This book supplies that need. Two prominent philosophers, Gerald Dworkin and R. G. Frey argue that in certain circumstances it is morally and should be legally permissible for physicians to provide the knowledge and means by which patients can take their lives. One of the best-known ethicists in the US (author of Lying: Moral Choice in Public and Private) Sissela Bok argues that the legalization of euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide would entail grave risks and would in no way deal adequately with the needs of those at the end of their lives, least of all in societies without health insurance available to all. All the moral and factual issues relevant to this controversy are explored. The book will thus enable readers to begin to decide for themselves how to confront a decision that we are all likely to face at some point in our lives.

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2 Comments so far »

  1. Les531 "Reviewer531" said,

    Wrote on September 10, 2012 @ 5:52 am

    8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
    4.0 out of 5 stars
    A BIG HELP, March 26, 2000
    By A Customer
    This review is from: Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide (For and Against) (Paperback)

    I was doing a debate on assisstent suicide for school, so I picked this book up. It really helped me so much. It covered all the issues, as well as both sides. I was able to state all the facts for my side (for), and their side (against)! This truly is a great book, and I suggest you pick it up if you need info. on this contraversial topic!

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  2. Anonymous said,

    Wrote on September 10, 2012 @ 6:24 am

    2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
    2.0 out of 5 stars
    Not the best to start out with, November 13, 2004

    This review is from: Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide (For and Against) (Paperback)

    Euthanasia and Physician Assisted Suicide: For and Against is a book written by three well-known philosophers and ethicists: Gerald Dworkin, R.G. Frey and Sissela Bok. This book discusses the moral issues of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. The book is broken down into two parts, the first part contains arguments for euthanasia and assisted suicide and the second part is against.

    The first part is broken up into four essays written by Dworkin and Frey. They discuss the “quintessential” case of physician-assisted suicide, in which the patient is competent, informed, terminally ill and has voluntarily requested the doctor’s assistance in dying. The first essay discusses, and rejects the idea that the principles of medicine prohibits a person’s physician to act with the intent to take the life of a patient or to provide means for the patient to do so himself. This essay refuses this idea and argues that it is in fact the physician’s job to help people ease their suffering and that a patient’s wish must never be overlooked. The second essay talks about distinctions in death. What is considered Euthanasia and what is considered physician assisted suicide? How do the ethics of each differ? Through this chapter readers take a closer look at the difference between “letting a patient die” and “intentionally ending life”. This essay also discusses the moral dilemma a doctor must face when dealing with a terminal patient who wants to die. The third essay gives the reader an understanding about why people fear to legalize euthanasia and snubs the opinion that legalizing physician assisted suicide will lead to mass killing. The fourth and final essay of part one deals with public policy and changes that may (or may not) need to be made if legalization were to take place. The authors fail to see why public policy would have a more difficult time dealing with physician assisted suicide and euthanasia then they do when dealing with withdrawal of life support or termination of water and food at the patients request (both practices not considered illegal).

    The second part is also broken down into four parts. Bok discusses why euthanasia and physician assisted suicide is morally wrong. Unlike her co-authors she does not stick to strictly a moral discussion but talks about the subject on broader terms by providing not only personal experiences but also discusses the legalization of euthanasia and physician assisted suicide in the Netherlands. The first chapter discusses the differences in choosing death and taking life with an “anti-legalization” edge. The second chapter discusses suicide; it’s history, the emergence of Christianity and suicide, and pain management. The third part takes an interesting view on euthanasia, patient’s autonomy, and the societal risks involved with legalizing euthanasia. The fourth and final part examines the role of physicians and the possibility that a patient who wants to die may just need help with depression.

    This book is one of the many books published about the moral debates on euthanasia and physician assisted suicide. It presented two very convincing arguments that help readers understand where both sides are coming from. Although this book is convenient in that both sides are accessible in one publication, it was also rather difficult to comprehend. The fact that the book was written by three very intelligent people, two of which have their PhD’s in philosophy, should automatically let the reader know that this book is probably not going to be an easy read. The first half is especially wordy and difficult to grasp. One must read and re-read and to understand what point the author is trying to make. I often found myself re-reading to understand one point, then when reading further along I discovered that either the point I thought the author wanted to make was with wrong or that the author had moved on to a different, equally difficult argument. Indeed, during the second essay Distinctions in Death by R.G. Frey, I felt as if the essay were taking me around in circles, going through the same line of reasoning over and over again, even when the author insisted that there were several points to his argument. The first part, while informative, is not as convincing as it could be due to the difficulty in understanding it.

    Anyone who reads this book will be more inclined to agree that Bok, no matter what previous opinions one may have, has the better argument. Her positions are clearer, more to the point and offer up more than just a philosophical view on the subject. The fact that she draws from personal experience and offers unambiguous information about related topics helps the reader understand what she wants to say. People can relate to this woman more than they can relate to the essays of Dworkin and Frey.

    Although this book is designed to target readers who have not yet made a finalized opinion concerning the controversy…

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