Carmela Epright ’90 is a philosophy professor at Furman University and a Clinical Professor at the University of South Carolina Medical School. She and her colleague, Professor Paige Harden, were recently awarded a $231,000 grant from the John Templeton Foundation to consider whether the concept of “moral luck” and its effect in genetic research aims to provide social justice.
The Center for Ethics and Leadership invites students, faculty, staff, and alumni to hear a lecture by SEU philosophy alumni, Carmela Epright on Death, Dignity, Autonomy, and Respect for the Rationality of Persons with Mental Illnesses.
After nearly a quarter of a century of political debate, physician aid in dying, or "death with dignity,"(DWD) is now legally permissible for persons with terminal illnesses in six states, and a dozen other jurisdictions are considering similar legislation. The moral impetus for such laws stems from respect for patient autonomy. However, if we are truly committed to protecting freedom regarding one's own medical decisions, why is DWD reserved exclusively for persons with six (or fewer) months left to live? And why are persons with mental illness excluded from the possibility of pursuing physician aid in dying? In this presentation the author will outline the history of medical decision-making, and consider how withdrawing treatment is both similar and different from pursuing DWD. Finally, she will discuss the ways in which persons with mental illnesses are considered incapable of making their own medical decisions, and how this view impacts the ability of persons with such disorders to participate in making self-regarding medical decisions, including the decision to pursue DWD.