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Durham e-Theses
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Christian views of euthanasia: a comparison of Russian and western perspectives

Lastochkina, Maria (2003) Christian views of euthanasia: a comparison of Russian and western perspectives. Masters thesis, Durham University.



The following research aims at unfolding an authentic Christian attitude to euthanasia by means of a comparative analysis of Christian bioethical thinking and practice in Russia and in the West. It seeks to establish what is euthanasia, whether it is incompatible with Christianity and, if so, what is the alternative. The first chapter explores the meaning of 'euthanasia', comparing and rethinking a number of definitions from the existing multitude. Through the psychological thicket of slogans such as "mercy killing", "personal autonomy" and "death with dignity" the core characteristic of euthanasia - deadly intention - is hardly ever seen. With some notable exceptions with regard to self-defence, just war, or capital punishment, in Christianity intending to kill has always been regarded as a grave sin of breaking the sixth commandment. The second chapter shows how Western Christian bioethics has gone from the ethics of Paul Ramsey to the ethics of Tristram Engelhardt, from balancing between justifying certain forms of intentional killing while condemning others to purifying one's heart and cultivating one's soul in order to prevent the formation of an intention to kill. The third chapter is dedicated to the development of Christian bioethics in Russia. In a country with over a millennium of Orthodox tradition there is an exceptional opportunity for the bioethical framework of Engelhardt to settle in naturally. The fourth chapter presents a number of well-publicized medical situations in Britain where choices between life and death were exercised. The analysis based on the material of the previous chapters shows most of them to be clear cases of euthanasia, while others have a recognizable potential to be described as such. The history and an ongoing story of the modem hospice movement - a living alternative to euthanasia - are the focus of the fifth and last chapter of this dissertation. Its core ability - to live with suffering - sustains the opposition to euthanasia and is essentially a Christian virtue.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:2003
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Sep 2011 10:00

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