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To kill is not the same as to let die: a reply to Coggon
  1. H V McLachlan
  1. Professor Hugh V McLachlan, School of Law and Social Sciences, Glasgow Caledonian University, Glasgow, UK; H.McLachlan{at}


Coggon’s remarks on a previous paper on active and passive euthanasia elicit a clarification and an elaboration of the argument in support of the claim that there is a moral difference between killing and letting die. The relevant moral duties are different in nature, strength and content. Moreover, not all people who are involved in the relevant situations have the same moral duties. The particular case that is presented in support of the claim that to kill is not the same as to let die is based upon a rejection of consequentialism.

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  • Competing interests: None declared.

  • Provenance and Peer review: Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • i I discuss this issue further elsewhere (McLachlan, in press).5

  • ii For a discussion of “alldependsism”, see McLachlan, 2005.6

  • iii I am not against legalised active euthanasia as such if appropriate legislation can be framed, but I am against allowing doctors to perform it. In my view, whether or not active euthanasia might be morally permissible, it should never be legally permissible for a doctor, particularly a doctor who is responsible for providing medical treatment for the person concerned, to do it. I hope to pursue this point in future publications.

  • iv I discuss this issue further elsewhere (McLachlan, in press).5

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