by Patrick Appel
Will Wilkinson defends living wills:
[P]eople tend underestimate the extent of adaptation to pain and reduced function. That’s the sort of thing a doctor might bring up in a counseling session. But it’s not clear how relevant it is. Living wills, as I understand them, primarily involve questions of what to do when a patient has lost consciousness, or is a state of heavily drugged consciousness, and is being kept alive by a respirator or other apparatus that is substituting for an organ that no longer functions. The big questions are about whether to withdraw active life-extending interventions or not, and under what conditions. If you’re functioning at a level sufficient to revise your living will, you can do that. It’s not like you’re locked into your first draft. And it’s not as if it is possible to set out in advance the conditions under which one would like to be legally euthanized. So I’m not sure I see the mistake.
Poulos gets philosophical:
The archetypal or stereotypical conservative would say that even an old, isolated person has a reason to reject suicide that reaches to the foundations of what makes us human and what gives humans dignity. The archetypal or stereotypical progressive would say that conservatives need to abandon their romantic and/or religious fantasies that a dying person finds more dignity in enduring great suffering until their body fails than in choosing to die beforehand. Liberals, who, technically speaking, are stuck or torn between conservatism and progressivism, would be torn on this issue too. Liberalism the political philosophy and worldview, not the ideological position struggles to square or reconcile two competing visions of human dignity.
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