I. Definition of Euthanasia: What is euthanasia?

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Issues in Bioethics: Study Guide for Quiz 3 Euthanasia Winter 2010
I. Definition of Euthanasia: What is euthanasia?

What should a good definition of “euthanasia” look like? NB: Attempt to clarify what a proper definition of euthanasia might be, does not imply endorsement either for or against euthanasia.

(from P. Foote, “Euthanasia”)
A. The OED Definition and its Problems

  • Greek etymology (origin) of word euthanasia; eu = good + thanatos = death

  • How “good” is this definition? Shorter OED def’n of euthanasia:

    • “a quiet and easy death”

    • “The means of procuring this”

    • “the action of inducing a quiet and easy death” (100)

  • NB: a murderer who carefully drugged his victim and thus caused “a quiet and easy death” could claim he was doing euthanasia.

  • Thus OED def’n inadequate, specifying only manner of death (how death is brought about).

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