Jones • Voluntary to nonVoluntary euthanasia
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Kennedy Institute of Ethics Journal
Vol. 21, No. 4, 379–404 © 2011 by The Johns Hopkins University Press
David Albert Jones
Is There a Loical Slippery Slope from Voluntaryto Nonvoluntary Euthanasia?
ABSTRACT. John Keown has constructed a loical slippery slope arument fromvoluntary euthanasia (VAE) to nonvoluntary euthanasia (NVAE). VAE if justi-ed implies that death can be of overall benet, in which case it should also befacilitated in those who cannot consent (NVAE). Hallvard Lillehammer assertsthat Keown’s arument rests on a fallacy. However, pace Lillehammer, it can berestated to escape this fallacy. Its validity is conrmed by applyin to VAE somewell-established eneral principles of medical decision makin. Thus, either VAEand NVAE must be accepted toether or, if NVAE is rearded as unacceptable,VAE should also be rejected.
SLIPPER SLPE ARgUENTS IN THE HISTR THE EUTHANASIA DEBATE
lippery slope aruments have been important in the euthanasia de-bate for at least half a century. In 1957 the Cambride leal scholarglanville Williams wrote a controversial book,
The Sanctity of Lifeand the Criminal Law
, in which he presented the decriminalizin of eu-thanasia as a modern liberal proposal takin its rihtful place alonsideproposals to decriminalize contraception, sterilization, abortion, and at-tempted suicide (all of which the book also advocated).
pposition tothese reforms was in turn presented as exclusively reliious and particu-larly Roman Catholic. Thus Williams asserted that “euthanasia can becondemned only accordin to reliious opinion” (1957, p. 312).The followin year, in response to this book ale Kamisar, then as-sociate professor of law at innesota wrote a substantial paper entitled,“Some Non-Reliious Views aainst Proposed ‘ercy Killin’ Leisla-tion.” Kamisar did not accept Williams’s assertion that euthanasia couldonly be rejected on the basis of reliious aruments. Kamisar wrote as“a non-Catholic and self-styled liberal” (1958, p. 974) and appealedexclusively to “utilitarian ethics” (1958, p. 974, n. 21). The fundamental