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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 59, Issue 3, September 2019

Patrick T. Smith
Pages 341-363
DOI: 10.5840/ipq2019717137

On Physician-Assisted Death and the Killing of Innocents
Some Temperate Philosophical Reflections

This essay highlights an argument for the moral impermissibility of physician-assisted death based on the prohibition of killing innocents that unfolds in four phases. First, I identify the operative moral principle and then develop a moral argument based upon it. Second, I raise challenges to such an argument designed to mitigate the force of the conclusion. Third, I sketch out a potential defense of the argument in light of these counter-responses for those who want to maintain moral opposition to physician-assisted death based upon the prohibition of killing innocents. Finally, I conclude with a brief postscript that highlights the limits of the philosophical approach taken in this essay in conversation with the role of moral psychology in moral judgment.

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