Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Philip Rose


Philosophy, religion and theology, Health and environmental sciences




The purpose of this thesis is to explore the concept of euthanasia as well as the situations in which it could possibly be justified. This thesis posits that euthanasia can be justified where a liberal conception of personal autonomy is given significant importance and where there exists suffering of a level which an autonomous individual is either unable or unwilling to bear. Following this the various distinctions within the concept of euthanasia are drawn out before the extant euthanasia legislation is discussed in order to illuminate what a justified form of euthanasia might look like. The bulk of this thesis is then given over to a detailed discussion of representative arguments against euthanasia and the possible responses thereto. Through the course of this discussion it becomes clear that a belief in the sanctity of life is foundational for almost all the arguments against euthanasia. Rather than attempting to refute this belief this thesis argues that, when taken as a whole, the arguments in favour of euthanasia are more persuasive than the arguments against, and that therefore there are circumstances in which euthanasia should be seen as a justifiable and rational choice made by an autonomous individual.