Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Devaluation of persons by biotechnology-facilitated practices at the beginning and at the end of life
  1. Bjørn Hofmann1,2
  1. 1 Department of Health Sciences, Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), Gjøvik, Norway
  2. 2 Centre for Medical Ethics, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway
  1. Correspondence to Dr Bjørn Hofmann, Centre for Medical Ethics, University of Oslo, 0315 Oslo, Norway; b.m.hofmann{at}

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

In this original and interesting article,1 Phil Reed argues that the objections launched against expressivism at the beginning of life do not apply to expressivism at the end of life. Moreover, he claims that the expressivist argument adds to and substantiates the arguments against physician-assisted suicide and euthanasia (PAS/E). In this commentary, I will

  1. Briefly examine whether the comparison between expressivism at the beginning and at the end holds.

  2. Scrutinise whether there is a trickle down-effect of expressivism at the end of life on other arguments against PAS/E.

  3. Examine one version of the expressivist argument that is not discussed by Reed both at the beginning and at the end of life.

Although Phil Reed certainly advances the expressivist debate, it is not clear that the objections to the expressivist argument are so different at the end compared with the beginning of life or that this adds to and substantiates the arguments against physician assisted suicide and euthanasia. Moreover, it is not obvious that the traditional objections to the expressivist argument, for example, that there is no message, no sender, and no receiver, have such a strong bite – neither at the beginning nor at the end of life. Biotechnologies are normative in many ways. We implement them normatively to obtain certain goals. At the same time, they facilitate certain actions and establish practices which form our norms and values, either intended or unintended. In either case, we need to pay attention to them, as …

View Full Text


  • Contributors BH is the only author of this commentary.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

Linked Articles

Other content recommended for you