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A Gewirthian Conception of the Right to Enabled Suicide in England and Wales

FENWICK, DANIEL,PATRICK (2015) A Gewirthian Conception of the Right to Enabled Suicide in England and Wales. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This thesis seeks to answer a seemingly intractable question in English human rights law: how should we understand the nature, constituent elements and application of a human right to enabled suicide? A moral framework is developed, based on the theories of Alan Gewirth and Deryck Beyleveld, in order to critique the approach to such a right in English law. The thesis argues that current approaches have failed to articulate the status of this right fully, in particular as regards the balance between its exercise and the protection of the right to life of others. Thus, the thesis seeks to use Gewirthian theory to defend an alternative understanding of the human right to enabled suicide. This ethically justified right is used to resolve the intractable questions of human rights law that, it is argued, have undermined the legal response to the right to enabled suicide thus far. Specifically, the thesis will address the problem of a slippery slope resulting from possible abuse of procedures designed to give effect to the right. The thesis will also consider the defensibility of apparent inconsistency between English laws prohibiting assisted suicide and laws regulating different courses of ‘suicidal’ conduct such as refusal of vital treatments and ‘life-shortening’ treatment. The thesis will not claim that there is one ideal form of human rights-compliant legal response to these questions, but it will seek to justify certain minimal requirements of a Gewirthian conception of a human right to enabled suicide. The original and significant contribution of this thesis to knowledge is therefore the development of a detailed framework to govern the balance between the right to enabled suicide and the countervailing right to life, and the application of this framework to English law on assisted suicide and voluntary euthanasia.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Law, Department of
Thesis Date:2015
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Mar 2015 09:11

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