Like a peat fire. The impact of the right to self-determination on the (Dutch) law on euthanasia | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 45, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0167-2444
  • E-ISSN: 2949-8651



This contribution deals with the moral justification of euthanasia. Initially, in the process towards legalizing euthanasia in the Netherlands the right to self-determination was the driving force. However, it is widely accepted that Dutch law on euthanasia that was passed in 2001 is based on mercy. In this respect, the early work of Den Hartogh has been influential. So, the principle of respect for autonomy and the principle of beneficence both seem to play a role in justifying euthanasia. Why exactly do we need those two principles, and what exactly are their complimentary roles? These are important questions that Den Hartogh has put on the agenda. In recent years several initiatives have been undertaken to increase the possibilities for euthanasia and assisted suicide. Again, these initiatives are driven by the right to self-determination. In this contribution the focus will be on this development regarding the underlying principles, with attention for the question how Den Hartogh’s dual track theory should be placed in this development.


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