The Right to Die Revisited

In Proceedings from the Second International interdisciplinary conference „BIOETHICS – THE SIGN OF A NEW ERA”. Skopje, North Macedonia: pp. 53-65 (2019)
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In this short paper I will discuss the ambiguous and, even, controversial term ‘right to die’ in the context of the euthanasia debate and, in particular, in the case of passive euthanasia. First I will present the major objections towards the moral legitimacy of a right to die, most of which I also endorse myself; then I will investigate whether the right to die could acquire adequate moral justification in the case of passive euthanasia. In the light of the Kantian tradition I will argue that since rights are understood as based upon duties, the right to die should also presuppose a corresponding duty, which to me could be either an imperfect, solidarity-related duty, or an autonomy-related one, at least as far as the unwanted prolongation of life is concerned. I will conclude with the view that the right to die could actually be considered a legitimate one in the case of passive euthanasia, when the application of life-supporting techniques is against the wishes and the best interests of the patient.

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Evangelos D. Protopapadakis
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens


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