Cover image for Euthanasia : the moral issues
Euthanasia : the moral issues
Baird, Robert M., 1937-
Publication Information:
Buffalo, N.Y. : Prometheus Books, 1989.
Physical Description:
182 pages ; 22 cm.
Reading Level:
1430 Lexile.
Subject Term:
Format :


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R726 .E794 1989 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Whether it be disconnecting life-support systems, choosing not to resuscitate, administering a lethal overdose, or choosing not to commence life-sustaining measures, the public is deeply divided: should these actions be viewed as "mercy killing," or are they acts of murder pure and simple? Is there a moral difference between "killing" and "letting die"? This book presents nineteen fascinating selections that help clear away the clouds of confusion churning at the center of this emotionally charged debate.

Author Notes

Robert M. Baird (Waco, TX) is a professor and the former chair of the philosophy department at Baylor University. He is editor with Stuart E. Rosenbaum of Prometheus's Contemporary Issues series.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The subject of euthanasia has become one of increasing public interest in recent years. This collection of 19 essays makes a significant contribution toward defining euthanasia, and describing and distinguishing among its various modes (e.g., active versus passive, voluntary versus involuntary). The essayists also debate the questions of whether euthanasia is a moral or legal concern, and consider the balance between right-to-life and quality-of-life concerns. Contributors include medical ethicist Kenneth L. Vaux and former Surgeon General C. Everett Koop. The piece on Dax's case, the discussion of the anonymous JAMA article concerning "Debbie," and the interchange between James Rachels and Thomas D. Sullivan on the distinction between active and passive euthanasia are three of the more challenging segments of the volume. Highly recommended for religion and medical collections. --Sheila McGinn-Moorer

Choice Review

This collection of essays is presumably intended for classroom use; if so, instructors would probably expect a range of perspectives representative of current views, a useful introduction, and an up-to-date bibliography. Here are 19 previously published articles; some of the authors are relatively well known in the euthanasia debate (e.g., James Rachels, Joseph Fletcher, and H. Tristram Englehardt). Others are better known in other venues (C. Everett Koop). Some essays contribute factual information on famous cases (Karen Ann Quinlan) or policies (euthanasia in the Netherlands); most explore the philosophical content of the issues. However, the range of polemics within the euthanasia debate is not particularly well represented, with the exception of the Sullivan and Rachels articles--which espouse directly opposing views. Depending upon one's textbook expectations, the selection is fairly good for undergraduates, though probably not comprehensive enough for upper-division or graduate use. Some will find the six-page introduction to be woefully inadequate; there is no bibliography or index. Instructors and undergraduate libraries might also compare this book to Beneficent Euthanasia, ed. by M. Kohl (CH, Jan'76). -R. F. White, College of Mount St. Joseph on the Ohio

Table of Contents

Introductionp. 7
1 Sentenced to Lifep. 15
2 It's Over, Debbiep. 23
3 Doctors Must Not Killp. 25
4 Debbie's Dying Mercy Killing and the Good Deathp. 29
5 The Case of Karen Quinlanp. 35
6 Active and Passive Euthanasiap. 45
7 Active and Passive Euthanasia: An Impertinent Distinction?p. 53
8 More Impertinent Distinctionsp. 61
9 The Right to Die: The Moral Dilemmasp. 69
10 Sanctity of Life Versus Quality of Lifep. 85
11 The Wrongfulness of Euthanasiap. 97
12 Assisted Suicide an Ethical Perspectivep. 103
13 Assisting Suicide an Ethical Perspectivep. 111
14 Justifiable Active Euthanasia in the Netherlandsp. 125
15 Active Voluntary Euthanasia a Needless Pandora's Boxp. 129
16 Ethical Issues in Aiding the Death of Young Childrenp. 141
17 Conclusions of a British Medical Association Review of Guidelines on Euthanasiap. 155
18 The Case for Active Voluntary Euthanasiap. 159
19 The Physician's Responsibility Toward Hopelessly Ill Patients a Second Lookp. 163
20 Missouri V. Cruzanp. 179
Glossaryp. 213
Contributorsp. 215