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JP8345/9345 End-of-Life Ethics

This subject will discuss ethical issues at the end of life and the principles upon which end-of-life decisions are or should be made in healthcare. Contemporary controversies will be discussed such as: definitions and significance of death, including ‘brain death’; the difference between ‘killing’ and ‘letting die’; the ‘quality of life’ idea; ‘therapeutic obstinacy’ and over-treatment at the end of life; the morality of suicide and of voluntary, involuntary and non-voluntary euthanasia; the circumstances in which treatments may be withheld or withdrawn; ‘not for CPR’ orders; the ‘special’ case of nutrition and hydration; care of, and the just allocation of health resources to, the elderly and the dying; palliative care and the use of high doses of pain-relieving agents; cadaveric organ ‘donation’; capital punishment; self-defence and war. Students will be equipped with a body of this knowledge which will enable them to undertake professional work in the field and serve as a basis for further learning.