Assisted dying and medical technology

This is the third of a series of three posts on assisted dying. The first discussed the sanctity of life, the second the spookiness of death. This one is about the role of medical technology. As in the other two, I focus on what seems to me to be a blind spot in modern society’s understanding, in the hope that the ethics of assisted dying may be illuminated.

Assessments of modern technology are much debated. For some, it constitutes progress. For others, it enables the powerful to keep ahead of others. (See, for example, Y H Harari, Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, London: Harvill Secker, 2014; or John Gray’s arguments against the notion of progress, e.g. in Heresies: Against Progress and Other Illusions.)

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Assisted dying and the spookiness of death

This is the second of three posts on the struggle we have to know what to do about assisted dying. The first addressed the sanctity of life. This one is about death. The third will be on technology.

On the one hand more and more people are being artificially kept alive against their wishes. On the other, whoever is entrusted with the right to say it is time for someone to die, there is the danger of abuse.

When we face a dilemma like this it is worth taking a step back and asking whether we have a blind spot. The spookiness of death is, I believe, one of the blind spots.

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Liberal not neutral

Nick Clegg gave a convincing interview on last night’s Channel 4 News (October 7th, 2014) It was convincing, because it was neither issue-driven nor overly concerned with protecting his own or his party’s political persona.

Taken as a whole, the interview was a brief reminder of what liberalism is all about which is a certain humility and a common sense wisdom shaped in compassion.

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Assisted dying and the sanctity of life

This is another attempt to address the issue of the sanctity of life in the context of proposed changes to the law on assisted dying. An earlier post is here.

The trouble with assisted dying is that the arguments on both sides are convincing. On the one hand more and more people are being artificially kept alive against their wishes, simply because the technology is available and nobody feels qualified to say it should not be used. Without the technology, nature would have been more merciful.

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