Humanistic Perspectives in Medical Ethics

By Maurice B. Visscher | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3
THE SANCTITY-OF-LIFE PRINCIPLE

A PHILOSOPHIC BACKGROUND FOR THE CONSIDERATION OF EUTHANASIA

Marvin Kohl

This work was supported in part by a fellowship from the National Institute of Mental Health (1 FO MH43718- 01). I am also indebted to J. O. Wisdom both for his suggestions and inspiration. The paper was presented at the Third Euthanasia Conference, sponsored by the Euthanasia Educational Fund, The New York Academy of Medicine, December 5, 1970, and at the American Philosophical Association Western Meeting, Chicago, Illinois, May 7,1971.

In the following paper I wish, first, to analyze different versions of the sanctity-of-life principle and inquire what, if any, justification there is for believing that life is sacred; and second, to point out certain confusions, especially in regard to euthanasia, that appear to be connected with the erroneous notion that one ought never kill an innocent human being.

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