Health Care Analysis

, Volume 9, Issue 1, pp 41–63

Is There a Moral Duty to Die?

  • J. Angelo Corlett

DOI: 10.1023/A:1011355028021

Cite this article as:
Corlett, J.A. Health Care Analysis (2001) 9: 41. doi:10.1023/A:1011355028021


In recent years, there has been a great deal of philosophical discussion about the alleged moral right to die. If there is such a moral right, then it would seem to imply a moral duty on others to not interfere with the exercise of the right. And this might have important implications for public policy insofar as public policy ought to track what is morally right.

But is there a moral duty to die? If so, under what conditions, if any, ought one to have such a duty, and why? In this paper, I distinguish between different moral grounds for the putative moral duty to die: deontological, intuitionist, and contractarian. Subsequently, I argue in support of Paul Menzel's theory of health care distribution. More precisely, I concur with his claim that there is a moral duty to die inexpensively in health care contexts. Then I provide and defend a philosophical analysis of the conditions in which such a duty could exist.

Ability Condition Agency Condition Categorical Imperative contractarian deontological Desert Condition deserve die duty harm Harm Condition Intrinsic Moral Worth Objection intuitionist moral right to die moral duty to die negative and positive moral duties right utilitarian 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • J. Angelo Corlett
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PhilosophySan Diego State UniversitySan DiegoUSA

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