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Euthanasia and/or the End of Medical Care

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The aim of this article is to develop a concept of euthanasia which is appropriate to the South African context. A brief survey of the Western debate is outlined, beginning with James Rachels' conceptual analysis of active and passive euthanasia. T. D. Sullivan's reaction to Rachels, as well as later contributions to the debate, are examined. The concept of euthanasia presupposed by this tradition is regarded as conceptually and morally restrictive, and an African worldview is then explored in the interest of an alternative conception. The latter view effects a conceptual shift, from a focus on explanation (versus justification) of the event of death, towards an approach of caring acceptance of responsibility during the process of dying in its entirety. The development of a revised and broader concept of euthanasia is facilitated in terms of a concurrence between the African perspective and the Christian approach to death and dying.

Affiliations: 1: Department of Philosophy University of Zululand Private Bag X 1001, KwaDlangezwa, 3886 Republic of South Africa


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