Date of Award

Winter 2006

Project Type


Program or Major

Justice Studies

Degree Name

Master of Arts

First Advisor

Nicholas J Smith


Legalizing euthanasia could have a serious impact on society and therefore requires careful attention be paid to the ethical issues involved. The two arguments advanced in this essay are: (1) that a consensus needs to be reached as to how to define the concept of autonomy in the euthanasia debate and (2) the application of Kantian autonomy to the euthanasia debate is only appropriate in making an argument that advanced directives, made by a present rational self for a future arational self, can legitimately specify conditions under which euthanasia should occur. To effectively make these arguments, an examination of Immanuel Kant's theory of suicide is presented and extended to euthanasia and competing theories of autonomy are discussed. Kant's autonomy will be established as the better definition and then used to support a defense of euthanasia where one makes a request for euthanasia through the means of an advanced directive.