Edinburgh speaker series seminar
Speaker: Michael Gill (University of Edinburgh)
Title: Deciding not to prolong life because of concerns about burdening loved ones
Abstract: Many terminally ill patients perceive themselves to be a burden to loved ones who care for them. This perception of being a burden can play a significant role in terminal patients’ decisions to take courses of action, such as ceasing life-sustaining treatment or requesting physician-assisted suicide, that hasten death. I will use the term ‘burden-based decisions’ as a shorthand for cases in which a terminal patient’s perception that she is a burden to her loved ones influences her decision to take a course of action that she believes will hasten death. When should we view a terminal patient’s inclination to make a burden-based decision to be an ethical problem, a regrettable failing? And when should we view it to be a (sad but) reasonable response to the situation rather than a problem or a failing? That's the question I will address here. When we examine closely the nature of burden-based decisions, I'll suggest, we’ll see that there is more ground for these decisions to be reasonable responses than many who write on the topic imply.
The Edinburgh Speaker Series features talks on all areas of philosophy. For information, or to join the email list for these events, please contact Mahrad Almotahari. All are welcome, including all students (MA, MSc, PhD) and faculty in philosophy.