Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon

Physician Assisted Suicide: Expanding the Debate (Reflective Bioethics) Paperback – August 7, 1998

ISBN-13: 978-0415920032 ISBN-10: 0415920035 Edition: 1st
Buy used
Buy new
Used & new from other sellers Delivery options vary per offer
68 used & new from $0.80
Amazon Price New from Used from
Paperback, August 7, 1998
"Please retry"
$9.54 $0.80

Hero Quick Promo
Save up to 90% on Textbooks
Rent textbooks, buy textbooks, or get up to 80% back when you sell us your books. Shop Now
$48.28 FREE Shipping. Only 1 left in stock (more on the way). Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

Physician Assisted Suicide: Expanding the Debate (Reflective Bioethics) + The Case against Perfection: Ethics in the Age of Genetic Engineering
Price for both: $64.28

Buy the selected items together

Editorial Reviews

From The New England Journal of Medicine

In the current debate about physician-assisted suicide, proponents argue that legalization would respect contemporary values of patient autonomy and that the practice, if legalized, would be limited in application. Opponents maintain that physician-assisted suicide would violate contemporary values because it would be applied both coercively and extensively. Most of the essays in this collection acknowledge that physician-assisted suicide would indeed constitute a change in contemporary values and that the practice might become widespread; nonetheless, they convincingly show that these propositions are not in themselves sufficient ground either to support or to oppose its legalization. These essays, most by philosophers, thus move the current debate to a new level of interest and sophistication.

The opening chapter, by Patricia Mann, sets the tone for the entire volume. Mann states that the way the value of autonomy is currently invoked to justify assisted suicide "ignores the fabric of relationships, good and bad, within which our actions necessarily occur" and that if physician-assisted suicide is legalized, "our cultural expectations [about dying] will be transformed" and "may become a ubiquitous form of death within the next quarter of a century." She concludes, "That may be a good thing, or it may not." Most of the other essays take up Mann's challenge, and whether they support or oppose legalization (and the collection is evenly balanced on this score), they examine the issues from this enlarged perspective with clarity and analytic rigor.

Margaret Battin envisions the prospect that legalized physician-assisted suicide would represent a fundamental shift in our cultural ideal of death and that assisted suicide would not be a rare event: "dying," she says, "no longer [would be] something that happens to you but something you do." Frances Kamm carefully dissects the current arguments advanced for physician-assisted suicide, rejecting the proposition that there are no moral differences between respecting a person's wish to refuse life-prolonging treatment and his or her wish for hastened death, but advocating legalized physician-assisted suicide on the ground that death can be rationally and morally chosen as "a lesser evil" in many specific circumstances. Don Marquis acknowledges that decisions to proceed with assisted suicide are not necessarily a product of clinical depression or misinformation but can be "rational choices made in accordance with an individual's fundamental values"; he nonetheless argues frankly for paternalistic restriction on this choice, because legalization "will make many of those in need of care worse off" and because laws can justifiably restrict the right to self-determination in order to protect people against "fundamental loss of well-being" (just as participation in the Social Security system is mandatory). John Arras maintains that individual morality is not the proper perspective for evaluating claims for or against legalized physician-assisted suicide but that predictable social harms require its rejection and, in any event, whichever policy is chosen will inevitably and tragically harm someone. The essays conclude with four chapters by theologians with different views about the moral evaluation of physician-assisted suicide that follow from the tenets of their various religions.

Not all the essays address the most fundamental questions raised by legalized physician-assisted suicide. Michael Teitelman, for example, maintains more narrowly that even if physician-assisted suicide is legalized, it should not be available in hospitals because its public character there would be likely to intensify the dangers of assisted suicide, which would be more controllable in other, noninstitutional settings. Bernard Gert, Charles Culver, and K. Danner Clouser make a case for legalizing the assisted suicide of competent, terminally ill patients by facilitating their refusal of food and water, as a preferred alternative to more extensive legalization of physician-assisted suicide. These essays too are distinguished by the clarity and care of their arguments.

The summaries in this review cannot convey the subtleties of argument and the refreshing lack of cant in these essays. This excellent collection, in short, accomplishes the goal proclaimed by the subtitle of the book: it succeeds in expanding the debate about legalizing physician-assisted suicide well beyond its current narrow framework.

Reviewed by Robert A. Burt, J.D.
Copyright © 1998 Massachusetts Medical Society. All rights reserved. The New England Journal of Medicine is a registered trademark of the MMS.


...this book offers one of the most comprehensive tools to date for understanding the physician-assisted suicide debate. -- Janet Heald Forliani, Religious Studies Review
This excellent collection succeeds in expanding the debate about legalizing physician-assisted suicide well beyond its current narrow framework. -- New England Journal of Medicine
From protecting the weak to the question of saving health-care money through PAS, the book covers many often contentious subjects. -- Publishers Weekly
Physician Assisted Suicide is by far the most comprehensive collection of materials yet...Whether you know little about this issue, or thought that you knew everything there is to know on it, you are bound to learn more from reading this volume. -- Peter Singer, author of Rethinking Life and Death
In a field where a debate can easily degenerate into sound-bites, it is refreshing to find a collection of essays that examines the difficult issues in a thoughtful and balanced fashion. Everyone concerned with the personal, psychological, medical, social, religious, and legal dimensions of physician-assisted suicide needs this volume. -- Alexander M. Capron, Professor of Law and Medicine, University of Southern California Law School
The debate on physician-assisted suicide is infected by emotional and confused advocacy on all sides; the only defense is clear, honest, rigorous thought--which this book offers in abundance, illuminating the issues, elevating the debate, and exemplifying civil discourse. -- Samuel Gorovitz, Professor of Philosophy and of Public Administration, Syracuse University
The debate about legalizing physician-assisted suicide in the United States has been characterized more by exaggeration and hyperbole by both sides than by a carefully reasoned argument. Physician Assisted Suicide is important reading for those on either side of the debate who want to more deeply understand the enormous complexity of this topic. This collection of essays is an excellent antidote. -- Timothy E. Quill, M.D., author of Death and Dignity: Making Choices and Taking Charge and Psychiatry, University of Rochester
[There is] a refreshing lack of cant in these essays. This excellent collection, in short, accomplishes the goal proclaimed by the subtitle of the book: it succeeds in expanding the debate about legalizing physician-assisted suicide well beyond its current narrow framework. -- New England Journal of Medicine
... there is no doubt that one emerges much better informed. It should be required for any legislatures that are considering a change to the laws. -- Journal of Health Psychology

Best Books of the Month
Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.

Product Details

  • Series: Reflective Bioethics
  • Paperback: 463 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (August 7, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0415920035
  • ISBN-13: 978-0415920032
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 1 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #815,596 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

3.0 out of 5 stars
5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See the customer review
Share your thoughts with other customers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

By Myra Jung on January 12, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Needed for a reference book
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more
Physician Assisted Suicide: Expanding the Debate (Reflective Bioethics)
This item: Physician Assisted Suicide: Expanding the Debate (Reflective Bioethics)
Price: $48.28
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com