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Ending Life

Ethics and the Way We Die

Margaret Pabst Battin

Publication Date - 05 May 2005

ISBN: 9780195140279

354 pages
6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches

Written by Margaret Pabst Battin, one of the top philosophers working in bioethics today, this work is a sequel to her 1994 volume The Least Worst Death.


Margaret Pabst Battin has established a reputation as one of the top philosophers working in bioethics today. This work is a sequel to Battin's 1994 volume The Least Worst Death. The last ten years have seen fast-moving developments in end-of-life issues, from the legalization of physician-assisted suicide in Oregon and the Netherlands, to a furor over proposed restrictions of scheduled drugs used for causing death, and the development of "NuTech" methods of assistance in dying. Battin's new collection covers a remarkably wide range of end-of-life topics, including suicide prevention, AIDS, suicide bombing, serpent-handling and other religious practices that pose a risk of death, genetic prognostication, suicide in old age, global justice and the "duty to die." It also examines suicide, physician-assisted suicide, and euthanasia in both American and international contexts.

As with the earlier volume, these new essays are theoretically adroit but draw richly from historical sources, fictional techniques, and ample factual material.

About the Author(s)

Margaret Pabst Battin is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Adjunct Professor of Internal Medicine, Division of Medical Ethics, at the University of Utah. She has authored, edited, or co-edited fourteen books.


"Animated, inventive, and pleasurable reading."--Andrew Peach, The Review of Metaphysics

"Not only does Battin successfully combine academic pieces with fiction, but she also shows a remarkable depth of knowledge of the historical, cultural, social, and at times legal influences which have shaped this debate. The reader gets the impression that this book is the result of serious and meticulous scholarly research on all aspects of these really difficult questions. Battin comes across as eloquently familiar with scientific developments, statistical studies and the realities involved in practicing the various solutions proposed."--Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

"There is more to be learnt from this book than from almost any of the countless others that seek to explore the issues that surround death and dying...Battin's words--both in this story and in the more 'academic' selections--have a grace and power all too rarely found in such collections. Battin is an expert guide in this exploration of the way we die and her insightful, original, and paradoxical life-affirming collection cannot be commended highly enough."--The Lancet

"Ending Life: Ethics and the Way We Die may provide the foundation and inspiration for various examinations and applications of end-of-life issues by psychologists. Those who are not familiar with the many issues associated with dying and death that have emerged in the last decade could find the book to be a treasure trove of ideas and insights."--PsycCRITIQUES

Praise for The Least Worst Death: Essays in Bioethics on the End of Life

"This book, which is engaging, erudite, and often funny, is a fascinating review of the history and implications of the debates--both medical and military--about suicide. Religious leaders, policymakers, health professionals, the sick, and the worried well will find these essays helpful in the effort to extract meaning and morals from modern life and its variety of deaths."--The New England Journal of Medicine

"Battin is not only a good philosopher, she is a practical philosopher. She adopts a problem-oriented approach to bioethics, selecting a specific issue and always attempting to provide circumspect and reasoned solutions."--Journal of Medical Ethics

"She is surely one of the most erudite and articulate scholars pondering questions of euthanasia, suicide, and the withdrawal of medical treatment in the Western world."-- Arthur L. Caplan, Ethics

"She does what analytically trained philosophers do best, namely, provide illuminating analyses and clarifications of difficult concepts and advance logically rigorous arguments in support of her analyses and positions."--Medical Humanities Review

"Margaret Pabst Battin is one of the most intelligent writers on medical ethics."--Studies in Christian Ethics

"Margaret Battin is an imaginative philosopher. She comes at issues at different angles and in different ways from most philosophers. She has a keen eye for points where philosophical argument and the public conversation have become polarized and unproductively stalled."--Social Theory and Practice

Table of Contents

    Introduction: Ending Life: The Way We Do It, The Way We Could Do It
    PART I: Dilemmas about Dying
    1. Euthanasia and Physician-Assisted Suicide
    2. Euthanasia: The Way We Do It, the Way They Do It
    3. Going Early, Going Late: The Rationality of Decisions about Physician-Assisted Suicide in AIDS
    4. Is a Physician Ever Obligated to Help a Patient Die?
    5. Case Consultation: Scott Ames, A Man Giving Up on Himself
    6. Robeck
    PART II: Historical, Religious, and Cultural Concerns
    7. Collecting the Primary Texts: Sources on the Ethics of Suicide
    8. July 4, 1826: Explaining the Same-Day Deaths of John Adams and Thomas Jefferson (And What Could This Mean for Bioethics?)
    9. High Risk Religion: Informed Consent in Faith Healing, Serpent Handling, and Refusing Medical Treatment
    10. Terminal Procedure
    11. The Ethics of Self-Sacrifice: What's Wrong with Suicide Bombing?
    PART III: Dilemmas about Dying in a Global Future
    12. Genetic Information and Knowing When You Will Die
    13. Extra Long Life: Ethical Aspects of Increased Life Span
    14. Global Life Expectancies and International Justice: A Reemergence of the Duty to Die?
    15. New Life in the Assisted-Death Debate: Scheduled Drugs versus NuTech
    16. Empirical Research in Bioethics: The Method of "Oppositional Collaboration"
    17. Safe, Legal, Rare? Physician-Assisted Suicide and Cultural Change in the Future

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