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Proceedings of the XXIII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 20, 2018

Medical Ethics

Lars Johan Materstvedt
Pages 15-21
DOI: 10.5840/wcp23201820494

Euthanasia is never “Passive”.
Inappropriate Definitions may Make Moral Problems More Complicated

This article rejects the traditional division of “active/passive euthanasia”. Such concept usage carries the potential for adding significant confusion and unnecessary complexity to the already extraordinarily complex issues surrounding euthanasia, assisted suicide and various related end-of-life acts such as withholding and withdrawing life-sustaining treatments. Whatever their normative view of euthanasia, discussants are well advised to use one particular and uniform understanding of euthanasia; namely, what it is taken to mean in the Netherlands. In this conception, there is no such thing as “passive euthanasia”.