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Durham University

Department of Philosophy

Staff

Publication details for Professor Geoffrey Scarre

Scarre, Geoffrey (2012). Can there be a good death? Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 18(5): 1082-1086.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

While some deaths are worse than others, there is no such thing as a ‘good death’ since the plausible desiderata of a ‘good death’ form an inconsistent set. Because death is of the greatest existential consequence to us, a ‘good’ death must be a self-aware death in which we grasp the import of what is happening to us; however, such realization is incompatible with our achieving the tranquillity of mind which is another requirement for the ‘good’ death. Nevertheless, the welcome recognition in recent years by medical personnel, palliative care workers and hospice staff that dying is an existential predicament as well as a physiological condition has enabled more people to avoid a ‘soulless death in intensive care’, even if it pays insufficient regard to the personal virtues that we need if we are to mitigate the worst evils of dying.