This collection contains twenty-one thought-provoking essays on the controversies surrounding the moral and legal distinctions between euthanasia and "letting die." Since public awareness of this issue has increased this second edition includes nine entirely new essays which bring the treatment of the subject up-to-date. The urgency of this issue can be gauged in recent developments such as the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in the Netherlands, "how-to" manuals topping the bestseller charts in the United States, and the many headlines devoted to Dr. Jack Kevorkian, who has assisted dozens of patients to die. The essays address the range of questions involved in this issue pertaining especially to the fields of medical ethics, public policymaking, and social philosophy. The discussions consider the decisions facing medical and public policymakers, how those decisions will affect the elderly and terminally ill, and the medical and legal ramifications for patients in a permanently vegetative state, as well as issues of parent/infant rights.
The book is divided into two sections. The first, "Euthanasia and the Termination of Life-Prolonging Treatment" includes an examination of the 1976 Karen Quinlan Supreme Court decision and selections from the 1990 Supreme Court decision in the case of Nancy Cruzan. Featured are articles by law professor George Fletcher and philosophers Michael Tooley, James Rachels, and Bonnie Steinbock, with new articles by Rachels, and Thomas Sullivan. The second section, "Philosophical Considerations," probes more deeply into the theoretical issues raised by the killing/letting die controversy, illustrating exceptionally well the dispute between two rival theories of ethics, consequentialism and deontology. It also includes a corpus of the standard thought on the debate by Jonathan Bennet, Daniel Dinello, Jeffrie Murphy, John Harris, Philipa Foot, Richard Trammell, and N. Ann Davis, and adds articles new to this edition by Bennett, Foot, Warren Quinn, Jeff McMahan, and Judith Lichtenberg.