THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE? HISTORICAL, POLITICAL AND PHILOSOPHICAL CONTEXT OF THE BELGIAN EUTHANASIA EXPERIENCE

Saad, Toni (2016) THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE? HISTORICAL, POLITICAL AND PHILOSOPHICAL CONTEXT OF THE BELGIAN EUTHANASIA EXPERIENCE. Masters thesis, St Mary's University College.

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Abstract

Following the Netherlands by a few months, Belgium is the second nation worldwide to decriminalise voluntary euthanasia. It did so in 2002 with the passing of the Act on Euthanasia, though euthanasia was relatively widely practiced in Belgium beforehand. Moreover, the Act did not put an end to illegal practices in regard to euthanasia: much euthanasia remains unreported, and non-voluntary euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide, both of which are illegal, continue to occur. Chapter One of this dissertation considers the state of affairs concerning euthanasia prior to and after the 2002 Act, and traces its development and influences. It shows that the process which preceded the decriminalisation of euthanasia was expedited by political motive, and that the Act itself suffers from conceptual flaws. Chapter Two places this Belgian euthanasia experience in its historical-philosophical and political context. It begins by outlining one influential ethical tradition, Aristotelian-Thomism, and describing how departure from it has radically changed the nature of moral philosophy, and, consequently, the fabric of moral debate. Furthermore, it argues that in the social context of political liberalism, the Belgian euthanasia experience and similar phenomena are somewhat inevitable developments. Analysis of the changing nature of moral debate confirms that, though it is very difficult to achieve moral consensus today, trends in moral philosophical thought nevertheless run in definite directions. It is concluded, therefore, that the Belgian euthanasia experience is a single symptom of broad and powerful changes in moral and political philosophy.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
School/Department: School of Education, Theology and Leadership
Depositing User: Unnamed user with email 145659@live.stmarys.ac.uk
Date Deposited: 03 Nov 2016 10:16
Last Modified: 03 Nov 2016 17:44
URI: http://research.stmarys.ac.uk/id/eprint/1281

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