Death rites: Assisted suicide and existential rights

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Modern life presents us with new, as well as perennial perspectives upon death. this essay explores how we might articulate an apposite conception of rights in relation to death, in a time of a declared respect for individual autonomy and waning adherence to religious belief, and considers these questions with particular reference to the challenges to law and state made by dianne pretty in the months leading up to her death. to such an applicant, with a ‘lay’ experience and apprehension of the role and meaning of law, the prognostications of the court regarding the status of the claim must have seemed surreal indeed – especially where disputable, patchwork value-systems are called upon to lend authority to the decision. the essay concludes that such peregrinations have implications not only for the individual claimant, but for the credibility of law and associated ethics and that the writings of existential philosophers on the subject of death can assist in modelling a more consistent, secular notion of ethics in relation to assisted suicide.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)183-198
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Law in Context
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 28 Sept 2005
Externally publishedYes


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