Yujie ZHANG (1987- ), lecturer at SWUPL, PhD at Macquarie University, Australia and SJTU, China, research interest: philosophy of rights, ethics and law, constitutional interpretation, and postmodernism.
Interpreting the Euthanasia Debate via Theories of Rights: Why a Choice View Provides a Better Solution
Abstract: The legitimacy of euthanasia has been highly debated around the world and within each state. Opponents of the practice argue that euthanasia violates the patient’s right to life, and sits on a slippery slope leading to unacceptable outcomes, while proponents concern about the patient’s self-determination, his or her pain, as well as relatives’ economic and emotional burdens that could relieved by such practice. These arguments all imply a certain account of rights, namely a will, a choice, a benefit or an interest. Viewing a right as a benefit, the slippery slope argument and concerns about patient’s pain and relatives’ burdens cannot reach a certain answer resulting from comparison of values. The patient’s right to life argument and right to self-determination argument that situates on an interest or a will view of rights are unable to provide answers that are acceptable and conclusive. Only by viewing the right to life and right to self-determination as choices can a robust answer be possible. The answer is euthanasia ought to be allowed, unless the state has otherwise incorporates a duty to the opposite in the law.