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Prolonging dying is the same as prolonging living--one more response to Long.
  1. H Kuhse,
  2. P Singer
  1. Centre for Human Bioethics, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia.


    In earlier publications, we had argued that Paul Ramsey is inconsistent because he simultaneously asserts that (i) 'all our days and years are of equal worth' and (ii) 'that it is permissible to refrain from prolonging the lives of some dying patients'. Thomas Long has suggested that we have not shown that Paul Ramsey is inconsistent. Ramsey and we, he holds, start from incommensurable metaphysical views: for Ramsey, the dying process has religious significance--God is calling his servant home. While it is normally a good thing to keep a patient alive, it would, for Ramsey, show deafness to God's call to keep a dying patient alive. It is true we do not share Paul Ramsey's religious views. It is, however, not necessary to rely on any particular metaphysical views to refute Ramsey's position. For Ramsey's view to be internally consistent, Ramsey would have to be able to distinguish between dying and non-dying patients. We examine some of Ramsey's examples and show that his practical judgements do not allow us to draw this distinction. This means that, contra Long, we hold fast to our charge that Ramsey's view is inconsistent.

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