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date: 21 January 2019

Abstract and Keywords

When the debate over euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide emerged into public consciousness in the mid-1970s, the debate got off to a rousing start, as philosophers, doctors, theologians, public-policy theorists, journalists, social advocates, and private citizens became embroiled in the debate. On the one side were liberals, who thought physician-assisted suicide and perhaps voluntary active euthanasia were ethically acceptable and should be legal; on the other side were conservatives, who believed that it was imoral and/or dangerous to legalize assisted dying as a matter of public policy. Over the next few decades in which this debate was accelerating it achieved a lively, florid richness, both as a philosophical dispute and as a broad, international public issue. This article aims to explore the richness of this debate by showing something of the terrain of the debate and the figures who have inhabited it, both the public figures and the academic ones partly behind the scenes.

Keywords: euthanasia, physician-assisted suicide, public-policy theorists, public consciousness, liberals, conservatives

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