Death with dignity: A dangerous euphemism

Christopher Kaczor, Robert P. George

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Advocates of euthanasia use the phrase “death with dignity” to suggest that intentional killing at the end of life secures and protects human dignity. Critics of euthanasia insist that intentional killing violates human dignity. To adjudicate between these views, four senses of the term are distinguished: dignity as flourishing, dignity as attributed, dignity as intrinsic worth, and dignity as autonomy. Dignity as attributed concerns the worth human beings confer on others or on themselves. Dignity as intrinsic worth is understood as the value human beings have simply because they are human beings. Dignity as flourishing is understood as the excellence of a human life consistent with, and expressive of, intrinsic dignity. Dignity as autonomy is defined as showing respect for other people by endorsing or at least not interfering with their autonomous choices. In this chapter, it is argued that none of these senses of dignity justify intentional killing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationHuman Dignity and Assisted Death
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780190675967
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Arts and Humanities


  • Attributed dignity
  • Autonomy
  • Body-self dualism
  • Flourishing
  • Intrinsic worth
  • Suicide


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