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Suffering and Bioethics$
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Ronald M. Green and Nathan J. Palpant

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780199926176

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199926176.001.0001

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Understanding Suffering

Understanding Suffering

(p.31) 2 Understanding Suffering
Suffering and Bioethics

Barry Hoffmaster

Oxford University Press

The goals of this chapter are to provide a coherent depiction of the human experience of suffering and to explain why the discussion of suffering is not prominent in bioethics. The first section uses examples and illustrations to elucidate the nature of suffering. Suffering results from profound loss that forecloses the satisfaction of values that define and drive a life. The second section considers responses to suffering. Intractable suffering can be made livable, but when suffering is drastic and extreme, a life has to be transformed, as the conversion of Donald Cowart to Dax and Job’s acceptance of humility demonstrate, or ended by assisted suicide or euthanasia. The concluding sections reveal the values implicit in reviews of requests for euthanasia in the Netherlands when suffering is deemed unbearable, and how the constitutive values of orthodox bioethics render suffering morally peripheral.

Keywords:   suffering, dignity, humiliation, euthanasia, Dax Cowart, Job, Netherlands

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