In this follow-up to the recent talk by Professor Richard Ashcroft, we are holding a crowd-sourced debate on the question of Physician Assisted Suicide, with Piers Benn coming to speak on it. Co-Hosted with London Crowd-Sourced Debating.
Euthanasia is a topic on which everyone has an opinion, often strongly held. For some people, it is just obvious that someone who is terminally ill, or very frail, or with a condition which is deteriorating more or less rapidly, is vulnerable and needs _more_ protection, not less, from despair, a cost-conscious health service, or relatives who may think them a burden. On this view, euthanasia should be resisted. Even the hard cases don't give us good arguments for giving up the important principle of the Sanctity of Life. For others, this view amounts in practice to cruelty, forcing people who are competent and autonomous but physically weak or incapable to live well beyond the point where life is meaningful to them or their suffering has become unbearable. A number of leading cases before the courts have kept this issue in the public eye, from the case of Mrs Diane Pretty to that of Mrs Debbie Purdy and now to that of Mr Tony Nicklinson. In this debate I will suggest that we think about this issue as one of human rights: we all agree there is a human right to life. Does that imply that there is also a human right to die?
Our original speaker, Richard Ashcroft, unfortunately had to drop out, but the good news is we now have Piers Benn.
Piers Benn has been a lecturer in philosophy at St. Andrews and Leeds Universities, and in medical ethics at Imperial and King's College London (where he was a visiting lecturer).
He has published two books:
as well as several articles on a wide range of topics including ethical issues in psychiatry.