The ethics of killing and letting die: active and passive euthanasia

Hugh V. McLachlan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


In their account of passive euthanasia, Garrard and Wilkinson present arguments that might lead one to overlook significant moral differences between killing and letting die. To kill is not the same as to let die. Similarly, there are significant differences between active and passive euthanasia. Our moral duties differ with regard to them. We are, in general, obliged to refrain from killing each and everyone. We do not have a similar obligation to try (or to continue to try) to prevent each and everyone from dying. In any case, to be morally obliged to persist in trying to prevent their deaths would be different from being morally obliged to refrain from killing all other people even if we had both obligations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)636-638
Number of pages3
JournalJournal of Medical Ethics
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2008


  • medical ethics
  • euthanasia


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