Ciência & Saúde Coletiva
Print version ISSN 1413-8123
SIQUEIRA-BATISTA, Rodrigo and SCHRAMM, Fermin Roland. Euthanasia: along the road of death and autonomy. Ciênc. saúde coletiva [online]. 2004, vol.9, n.1, pp. 31-41. ISSN 1413-8123. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1413-81232004000100004.
This article sets out from the question: Would a definition of the concept of death, which could be considered trustworthy and therefore consensual, be considered crucial for the moral legitimacy of euthanasia? It seeks to address this quest expounding on the problems involving the attempts of a scientific definition of death when this definition is necessary for ethical consideration related to the end of life, as it is the case in euthanasia or assisted suicide. The argumentation is based on Hume's Law which prohibits "values" to interfere with "facts" and on the evolutionary concept of scientific ideas arising from Kant's famous distinction between the unknowable thing-in itself and the knowable thing-as-it-appears, which gives rise to a methodological conclusion: the incommensurability between the order of facts and the order of values, meaning that a definition of an event/process such as death can only be compared to the order of facts, and the same applies to values. Furthermore, it seeks to delimit an alternative field for this discussion, which notwithstanding its limitations is quite useful for the bioethical argumentation: the principle of autonomy intrinsic to the order of values.
Keywords : Bioethics; Euthanasia; Death; Autonomy.