Aarhus University Seal

Critique of autonomy-based arguments against legalising assisted dying

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review


  • Thomas Søbirk Petersen, Roskilde University, Denmark
  • Morten Dige
The aim of this article is to present and critically investigate a type of argument
against legalising assisted dying on request (ADR) for patients who are
terminally ill and experiencing suffering. This type of argument has several
variants. These—which we call ‘autonomy‐based arguments’ against legalising
ADR—invoke different specifications of the premise that we ought not to
respect requests for assistance in dying made by terminally ill and suffering
patients because the basic conditions of autonomy cannot be met in scenarios
where such requests are made. Specifically, it is argued either (1) that as a result
of pain, anxiety or desperation, terminally ill patients are not competent
decision makers or (2) that legalisation of ADR would lead to social pressure or
in other ways change the patient's context of choice in ways that make such
requests nonautonomous. We argue that these types of arguments are
problematic in light both of empirical studies and the fact that we usually
judge that it is morally right to respect the wishes and decisions of dying people
even if they suffer.
Translated title of the contributionEn kritik af autonomibaserede argumenter mod legalisering adf assisteret død
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-170
Number of pages6
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023

    Research areas

  • assisted dying, autonomy, ethics, pain, terminally ill

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 284534738