The ethics of and the appropriate legislation concerning killing people and letting them die: a response to Merkel

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Abstract

With regard to ethics and legislation, what is the significant difference between a doctor terminating the life-supporting treatment of a patient in the course of his job and a greedy relative of the patient doing the same thing to inherit his wealth? Merkel offers an interesting and inventive answer to this question in terms of the improper violation of personal boundaries. However, despite Merkel's claim to the contrary, his answer does not directly address the question of the relevant ethical similarities and differences between killing and letting die in general. Furthermore, it does not provide the basis a plausible rationale for legislation concerning killing and letting die. The questions of whether letting someone die is ethically the same as killing someone and whether it should be treated the same way by the criminal law are not the same as or tantamount to the question of whether or not it involves the transgression of another person's boundaries.

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