Ontology or Phenomenology? How the LVAD Challenges the Euthanasia Debate

U.A.F. Kraemer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)
1 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

This article deals with the euthanasia debate in light of new life-sustaining technologies such as the left ventricular assist device (LVAD). The question arises: does the switching off of a LVAD by a doctor upon the request of a patient amount to active or passive euthanasia, i.e. to ‘killing’ or to ‘letting die’? The answer hinges on whether the device is to be regarded as a proper part of the patient's body or as something external. We usually regard the switching off of an internal device as killing, whereas the deactivation of an external device is seen as ‘letting die’. The case is notoriously difficult to decide for hybrid devices such as LVADs, which are partly inside and partly outside the patient's body. Additionally, on a methodological level, I will argue that the ‘ontological’ arguments from analogy given for both sides are problematic. Given the impasse facing the ontological arguments, complementary phenomenological arguments deserve closer inspection. In particular, we should consider whether phenomenologically the LVAD is perceived as a body part or as an external device. I will support the thesis that the deactivation of a LVAD is to be regarded as passive euthanasia if the device is not perceived by the patient as a part of the body proper.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)140-150
JournalBioethics
Volume27
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Fingerprint

Heart-Assist Devices
Euthanasia
euthanasia
phenomenology
ontology
Equipment and Supplies
Passive Euthanasia
Human Body
Active Euthanasia
Ontology
Phenomenology
Technology

Cite this

Kraemer, U.A.F. / Ontology or Phenomenology? How the LVAD Challenges the Euthanasia Debate. In: Bioethics. 2013 ; Vol. 27, No. 3. pp. 140-150.
@article{b414ba833e524fc6be4c7138a8ceae5c,
title = "Ontology or Phenomenology? How the LVAD Challenges the Euthanasia Debate",
abstract = "This article deals with the euthanasia debate in light of new life-sustaining technologies such as the left ventricular assist device (LVAD). The question arises: does the switching off of a LVAD by a doctor upon the request of a patient amount to active or passive euthanasia, i.e. to ‘killing’ or to ‘letting die’? The answer hinges on whether the device is to be regarded as a proper part of the patient's body or as something external. We usually regard the switching off of an internal device as killing, whereas the deactivation of an external device is seen as ‘letting die’. The case is notoriously difficult to decide for hybrid devices such as LVADs, which are partly inside and partly outside the patient's body. Additionally, on a methodological level, I will argue that the ‘ontological’ arguments from analogy given for both sides are problematic. Given the impasse facing the ontological arguments, complementary phenomenological arguments deserve closer inspection. In particular, we should consider whether phenomenologically the LVAD is perceived as a body part or as an external device. I will support the thesis that the deactivation of a LVAD is to be regarded as passive euthanasia if the device is not perceived by the patient as a part of the body proper.",
author = "U.A.F. Kraemer",
year = "2013",
doi = "10.1111/j.1467-8519.2011.01900.x",
language = "English",
volume = "27",
pages = "140--150",
journal = "Bioethics",
issn = "0269-9702",
publisher = "Wiley-Blackwell",
number = "3",

}

Ontology or Phenomenology? How the LVAD Challenges the Euthanasia Debate. / Kraemer, U.A.F.

In: Bioethics, Vol. 27, No. 3, 2013, p. 140-150.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

TY - JOUR

T1 - Ontology or Phenomenology? How the LVAD Challenges the Euthanasia Debate

AU - Kraemer, U.A.F.

PY - 2013

Y1 - 2013

N2 - This article deals with the euthanasia debate in light of new life-sustaining technologies such as the left ventricular assist device (LVAD). The question arises: does the switching off of a LVAD by a doctor upon the request of a patient amount to active or passive euthanasia, i.e. to ‘killing’ or to ‘letting die’? The answer hinges on whether the device is to be regarded as a proper part of the patient's body or as something external. We usually regard the switching off of an internal device as killing, whereas the deactivation of an external device is seen as ‘letting die’. The case is notoriously difficult to decide for hybrid devices such as LVADs, which are partly inside and partly outside the patient's body. Additionally, on a methodological level, I will argue that the ‘ontological’ arguments from analogy given for both sides are problematic. Given the impasse facing the ontological arguments, complementary phenomenological arguments deserve closer inspection. In particular, we should consider whether phenomenologically the LVAD is perceived as a body part or as an external device. I will support the thesis that the deactivation of a LVAD is to be regarded as passive euthanasia if the device is not perceived by the patient as a part of the body proper.

AB - This article deals with the euthanasia debate in light of new life-sustaining technologies such as the left ventricular assist device (LVAD). The question arises: does the switching off of a LVAD by a doctor upon the request of a patient amount to active or passive euthanasia, i.e. to ‘killing’ or to ‘letting die’? The answer hinges on whether the device is to be regarded as a proper part of the patient's body or as something external. We usually regard the switching off of an internal device as killing, whereas the deactivation of an external device is seen as ‘letting die’. The case is notoriously difficult to decide for hybrid devices such as LVADs, which are partly inside and partly outside the patient's body. Additionally, on a methodological level, I will argue that the ‘ontological’ arguments from analogy given for both sides are problematic. Given the impasse facing the ontological arguments, complementary phenomenological arguments deserve closer inspection. In particular, we should consider whether phenomenologically the LVAD is perceived as a body part or as an external device. I will support the thesis that the deactivation of a LVAD is to be regarded as passive euthanasia if the device is not perceived by the patient as a part of the body proper.

U2 - 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2011.01900.x

DO - 10.1111/j.1467-8519.2011.01900.x

M3 - Article

C2 - 21797909

VL - 27

SP - 140

EP - 150

JO - Bioethics

JF - Bioethics

SN - 0269-9702

IS - 3

ER -