Autonomy, voluntariness, and assisted dying

Colburn, B. (2020) Autonomy, voluntariness, and assisted dying. Journal of Medical Ethics, 46(5), pp. 316-319. (doi: 10.1136/medethics-2019-105720) (PMID:31719156)

202097.pdf - Accepted Version



Ethical arguments about assisted dying often focus on whether or not respect for an individual’s autonomy gives a reason to offer them an assisted death if they want it. In this paper, I present an argument for legalising assisted dying which appeals to the autonomy of people who don’t want to die. Adding that option can transform the nature of someone’s choice set, enabling them to pursue other options voluntarily where that would otherwise be harder or impossible. This does not contradict the more familiar arguments for legalising assisted dying based on the autonomy of those who seek to die. But it does suggest that a wider constituency of support for that legislative change might be created by emphasising that one need not be in that position to be benefited by the change.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Colburn, Professor Ben
Authors: Colburn, B.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > Philosophy
Journal Name:Journal of Medical Ethics
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN (Online):1473-4257
Published Online:12 November 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of Medical Ethics 46(5): 316-319
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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