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A rebuttal on externalism
  1. Hane Htut Maung
  1. Department of Politics Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster University, Lancaster, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Hane Htut Maung, Lancaster University Department of Politics Philosophy and Religion, Lancaster, UK; h.maung1{at}


In a recent paper, I argued that an externalist understanding of mental disorder from the philosophy of psychiatry presents an ethical challenge to the practice of medical assistance in dying (MAiD) for psychiatric illness, because it highlights the ways in which the suffering associated with psychiatric illness is sustained by features of the external environment wherein the person is embedded, including social barriers and injustices. In a response to my paper, Harry Hudson argues that addressing social inequality lacks relevance to the immediate permissibility of psychiatric MAiD and that the issue of psychiatric MAiD should be informed by ‘pragmatic politics’ rather than by ‘obfuscatory philosophy’. Herein, I contend that Hudson’s response misconstrues my position and ascribes to me views I neither express nor endorse. My paper does not claim that psychiatric MAiD should be denied to people who are presently in intolerable distress. Rather, it suggests that the provision of psychiatric MAiD comes along with social responsibilities of the state to attend to the barriers and injustices that sustain and exacerbate psychiatric illness, as well as ethical responsibilities of clinicians to consider a wider range of presently available psychological and social interventions which may have been neglected under a traditional internalist approach.

  • euthanasia
  • mental disorders
  • suicide

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  • Contributors HHM is the sole author of this work.

  • 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.

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

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