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Book Chapter

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Challenging the standard argument for euthanasia, G. E. M. Anscombe holds that euthanasia does not comport with human dignity interpreted in terms of self-determination. For, were self-determination to ground any killing it would justify self-killing, not being killed by another. I articulate reasons for thinking that she correctly identifies the dissonance of self-determination with euthanasia. Additionally, I argue that the same holds, less obviously, for physician-assisted suicide (PAS, which she does not explicitly consider).

Moreover, Anscombe suggests that what actually occurs in euthanasia in effect equates a person to a humanely euthanized dog and, thereby, trivializes and degrades human lives and deaths. In response to advocates of euthanasia and PAS who think that our practice of pet-euthanasia positively recommends euthanizing our fellow humans (or assisting in their suicides), I develop Anscombe’s suggestion and show why euthanasia comports with the nature of animals while degrading humans (as does PAS).