Acts and Omissions, Killing and Letting Die
BMJ (British Medical Journal). 1986 Jan 11; 292(6513): 126-127.
Gillon asks what, if any, moral importance resides in the distinction between killing and letting die in the context of medical care. He considers and rejects the acts and omissions doctrine, which claims that actions (killing) resulting in some undesirable end are in general morally worse than failures to act (allowing to die) that have the same result. He also refutes the argument that the moral distinction between killing and letting die is one of harming versus benefitting, and that a physician has a responsibility not to harm (kill) a patient but no duty to help (keep alive). Gillon concludes by discussing the moral claims upon which the Roman Catholic rejection of the acts and omissions doctrine is based, which are the subjects of his next
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