> [Re Kevorkian case]
> It is a question of delegation. If we are to apply your logic to other areas
> of rights, then only people who have served in the military to defend the
> nation have a right to enjoy the rights protected by that government. I have
> a right to defend myself in court. The fact that I delegate the power to
> execute that defense to an attorney does not negate my right to a defense,
> but under your logic it would. The patient of Kevorkian has been documented
> as being of sound enough mind to delegate his wishes to another who was more
> capable of executing them than he.
I agree that the patient has a right to delegate the act; I just think we must apply greater scrutiny to the question of whether or not he has in fact done so. When the consequences of an action are great, a greater level of certainty about consent is often required: sitting at a table and ordering a meal in a restaurant is sufficient implied consent to pay for the meal in our culture that no explicit contract--even oral-- is needed. On the other hand, to delegate to someone the right to sell your house requires a signed and notorized power of attorney, because we don't want such an action taken lightly. Consent to have sex requires no written agreement, but does require an age limit to ensure sufficient understanding of the consequences.
Is not the case of causing someone's death an example where we must apply the very highest standard of consent to guard against mistake or misunderstanding? I'm sure I have uttered words like "just kill me now" or something similar in frustration; if those were videotaped, I would not want them used as a defense if someone murdered me. I think it is a good thing for a jury to look into the question of consent in this case. They found that Kevorkian went overboard, and I am not so sure that they were wrong (I'm still hedging here, though, because the jury may have been swayed by the law rather than justice).
If Mr. Kevorkian was actually executing the patient's wishes, I have no problem with that. I'm just not yet convinced he was.
> If a person is frozen by fright on the edge of a cliff, does that
> mean they they don't wish to be rescued?
An interesting case. If I fail to rescue, I may or may not be following eir wishes, but the results of my failure will be drastic, so I am inclined to say that I would rescue absent clear instructions not to (judging consent by the consequences again). If I rescue em against eir will, I have committed a tort, but I have done little damage. I can live with that.
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