In considering the patient's right to a certain quality of dying, this essay outlines how the legal and ethical justifications for passive euthanasia depend on the doctrine of acts and omissions. It is suggested that this doctrine is untenable and that alternative justifications are needed. The development of the modern mechanistic approach to death is traced, showing that a possible basis for an humane way of death lies in a reacceptance of a metaphysical concept of life.
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↵1 This essay won a first prize in an essay competition organized by the Medical Defence Union. It is published in a slightly amended form by kind permission of the Medical Defence Union.