Croatian Journal of Philosophy

Volume 1, Issue 3, 2001

The Philosophy of John Rawls

Elvio Baccarini
Pages 331-345

Rawls and the Question of Physician-Assisted Suicide

Rawls’s theory of justice is capable of providing an important contribution to the question of physician-assisted suicide (PAS). PAS should be guaranteed as a right to make decisions in accordance with the conception of the good the individual formulates as a rational being. This defense is supported, therefore, by a Kantian premise. But it is also possible to oppose this kind of proposal by relying on different aspects of Kant’s theory, i.e. on some variant of the famous argument against suicide based on the means/end formulation of the categorical imperative. In this paper, I try to show that these attempts are not well founded, and that the Rawlsian appeal to the Kantian tradition divulges better perspectives. I also try to add considerations inspired by contextualist epistemology to the Rawlsian appeal to the burdens of judgment.