JSI Seminar | Legalizing Assisted Dying: Are We On A Slippery Slope To Involuntary Euthanasia?
JSI Seminar: Legalizing Assisted Dying: Are We On A Slippery Slope To Involuntary Euthanasia?
On 28 November 2023, the Voluntary Assisted Dying Act will come into effect in NSW. The Act allows ill persons having decision-making capacity, acting voluntary, and with less than six months to live (12 months in the case of a neurogenerative illness) to request a prescription of a lethal substance to end intolerable suffering. If the medical practitioners responsible for the assessment of the request confirm that the eligibility conditions are satisfied, the patient may decide to self-administer the lethal substance or that the substance is to be administered to the patient by a doctor. The Voluntary Assisted Dying Act was eventually approved on 19 May 2022 after an exhausting and hard-fought parliamentary debate.
One of the main reasons justifying the opposition to the bill was provided by a slippery slope argument: The legalization of assisted dying would be a first and decisive step towards the gradual acceptance by public opinion, medical professions, and political decision-makers of the medical killing of people unable to consent. Given that this outcome is morally disgraceful, assisted dying should not be permitted in the first place. Slippery slope arguments are popular in a wide range of debates across bioethics, law, and public policy, and are still extensively used to prevent the legalization of assisted dying in countries such as the UK, Germany and Italy. Besides, they are widely employed to prevent policymakers from extending the right to assisted dying to new categories of persons in those jurisdictions where that right is already recognized.
However, it is highly disputed whether arguments of this sort are able to support their conclusions or should rather be dismissed because ill-grounded. In this seminar I will try to answer this question. To do that, I will first show that various versions of the slippery slope arguments are actually present in the debate on assisted dying. I will then claim that the only version of the argument that is not ill-grounded supports the opposite conclusion, namely that the non-recognition of the right to assisted dying may be a first step on the slippery slope to unvoluntary euthanasia in many legal systems.
About the speaker:
Damiano Canale is Professor of Philosophy of Law and Critical Thinking at Bocconi University, Milan (Italy). His scholarship mainly focuses on legal reasoning and legal interpretation, the methodology of jurisprudence, the relationship between scientific knowledge and legal knowledge, and the history of legal concepts. He was visiting fellow at the Max-Plank-Institut für Europäische Rechtsgeschichte (Frankfurt a.M.), the Yale Law School and the University of Oxford. He is the author of four books in Italian and his papers have been published in journals such as Law and Philosophy, Ratio Juris, the American Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, the Canadian Journal of Law and Jurisprudence, Jurisprudence, Informal Logic, Argumentation.
Thursday 15 June 2023, 6-7.30pm AEST
Venue: Level 4, Common Room, New Law Building (F10), Eastern Avenue, Camperdown campus
CPD Points: 1.5
This event is proudly presented by the Julius Stone Institute of Jurisprudence at The University of Sydney Law School.