Novel beings and assisted nonexistence

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This article engages with the legal regulation of end-of-existence decision-making for novel beings, specifically assisted nonexistence for such entities. I explain the concept of a legal model for assisted death by reference to the substantive features of legal regimes in three jurisdictions in which assisted suicide or euthanasia is lawful. I consider how these models might fit novel beings who may require or prefer assistance to end their own existence by reference to the constituent features—abstract legal ingredients—that models for assisted death share. I argue that extant models may block some novel beings’ access to end-of-existence assistance or fail to track what matters to them. I then examine the merits of adopting a universal model for assisted nonexistence, that is, a legal framework whose substantive features capture the end-of-existence concerns of both human and novel beings. Consideration of a unified legal framework may illuminate the discussion of assisted nonexistence for humans and novel beings. However, I argue that while novel beings may have similar interests to humans, they may be relevantly different also. The prima facie case for adopting a one regime to rule us all approach to assisted nonexistence may be defeated by reasons for divergent regulation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)543-555
Number of pages13
JournalCambridge Quarterly of Healthcare Ethics
Issue number3
Early online date10 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021

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© The Author(s), 2021. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy.

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