Govert den Hartogh, What Kind of Death: The Ethics of Determining One’s Own Death

Fakonti, Chrystalla (2023) Govert den Hartogh, What Kind of Death: The Ethics of Determining One’s Own Death. Oxford University Press (OUP).

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Physician-assisted death is a highly debated topic in medical law. ‘What Kind of Death: The Ethics of Determining One’s Own Death’ by Govert den Hartogh is part of the Routledge Research in Applied Ethics Series, examining physician-assisted death and end-of-life decisions. It is divided into four parts1 and contains sixteen chapters in total, exploring topics such as ‘suicide’ (Part 1), ‘palliative care and palliative sedation’ (Part 2), ‘euthanasia’ (Part 3), and an analysis of ‘hard cases’ (Part 4). The author has a commendable aim: to examine both fundamental and practical aspects of physician-assisted death, including related legal regulation based on new evidence.

One of this book’s strengths is its ability to evaluate technical and complex areas. It offers a valuable resource for exploring end-of-life choices from a personal and moral standpoint. It also provides an insightful examination of what constitutes a ‘good death’ and how to facilitate it. It will appeal to anyone researching bioethics, applied ethics, law, or simply curious about death, particularly assisted death. The book is well-structured, establishing a right to suicide before connecting this with more complicated issues such as ‘euthanasia’ and ‘hard cases’. Care is also generally taken to explain technical terms thoroughly. For example, ‘euthanasia’ is defined at the outset of the discussion as ending someone’s life upon their request (p. 4). By explaining such terms, the author bridges knowledge gaps among readers, as some may not be familiar with technical terms, thus making this book more accessible to a broader audience.

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