Goligher in Hamilton: If People Matter, Should We Cause Their Death?

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Event Details


FREE PUBLIC EVENT: The Hamilton Science Faith Forum and the CSCA present a lecture by Ewan Goligher (Assistant Professor of Medicine and Physiology at the University of Toronto and Physician-Scientist at Toronto General Hospital Research Institute).

If People Matter, Should We Cause Their Death? Revisiting the Ethics of Physician-Assisted Death

The use of death as a treatment for grievous and irremediable suffering is increasingly accepted in Canadian healthcare and society. Since legalization, the utilization and eligibility for euthanasia have rapidly expanded in Canada. Further expansion to include patients with mental illness, minors, and infants are the subject of active consideration. This practice takes for granted that the act of causing death is morally permissible, a claim of considerable controversy, especially in religious communities. Support for causing death has been primarily grounded in the values of respect for autonomy and compassion. In this lecture, we will critically examine the question of whether the practice of causing a patient’s death coheres with a commitment to human value, distinguishing intrinsic and extrinsic forms of value. Specifically, we will enquire about the conception of human value presupposed by the practice of assisted death, and assess whether this conception satisfies our widely accepted commitments to universal human value and human rights. Finally, we will consider the moral implications of intrinsic human value for the limits of medicine and scientific endeavour.

Ewan Goligher MD PhD is Assistant Professor of Medicine and Physiology at the University of Toronto and Physician-Scientist at Toronto General Hospital Research Institute. He practices critical care medicine in the medical-surgical intensive care unit at Toronto General Hospital, specializing in the management of advanced respiratory failure, extracorporeal life support techniques, and transplantation. He has published and presented on the ethics of physician-assisted death and conscientious objection in medicine in professional journals and lay publications.