Do physicians have an inviolable duty not to kill?

Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 26 (1):75 – 91 (2001)
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An important part of the debate over physician-assisted suicide concerns moral duties that are specific to physicians. It is sometimes argued that physicians, by virtue of special commitments rooted in the nature of their profession, may never intentionally kill a patient, and that therefore, whether or not assisted suicide may be justifiable, it can never be right for a physician to take part in such an act. I examine four types of argument that have been offered in support of this conclusion, and find that none succeeds. Each attempts to show why the duty to conserve life must be unconditional for physicians, yet a consideration of the ways in which contemporary medicine has evolved shows that such a duty is now no more fundamental to the profession than a duty to relieve suffering, which may in some cases override it.



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Citations of this work

Voluntary euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, and the goals of medicine.Jukka Varelius - 2006 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 31 (2):121 – 137.
Euthanasia and Common Sense: A Reply to Garcia.G. Seay - 2011 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 36 (3):321-327.
Medically Assisted Death and the Ends of Medicine.Eric Vogelstein - forthcoming - Journal of Bioethical Inquiry:1-11.
Euthanasia and physicians' moral duties.Gary Seay - 2005 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 30 (5):517 – 533.

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