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First do no harm: euthanasia of patients with dementia in Belgium

Cohen-Almagor, Raphael



Euthanasia in Belgium is not limited to terminally ill patients. It may be applied to patients with chronic degenerative diseases. Currently, people in Belgium wish to make it possible to euthanize incompetent patients who suffer from dementia. This article explains the Belgian law and then explores arguments for and against euthanasia of patients with dementia. It probes the dementia paradox by elucidating Dworkin's distinction between critical and experiential interests, arguing that at the end-of-life this distinction is not clearcut. It argues against euthanasia for patients with dementia, for respecting patients' humanity and for providing them with more care, compassion, and good doctoring.


Cohen-Almagor, R. (2016). First do no harm: euthanasia of patients with dementia in Belgium. The Journal of medicine and philosophy, 41(1), 74-89.

Journal Article Type Article
Online Publication Date Dec 8, 2015
Publication Date Feb 1, 2016
Deposit Date Dec 23, 2015
Publicly Available Date Dec 13, 2017
Journal Journal of medicine and philosophy
Print ISSN 0360-5310
Electronic ISSN 1744-5019
Publisher Oxford University Press
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 41
Issue 1
Pages 74-89
Keywords Autonomy; Belgium; Beneficence; Critical and experiential interests; Dementia paradox; Euthanasia
Public URL
Publisher URL
Additional Information This is a description of an article published in: Journal of medicine and philosophy, 2016, v.41 issue 1.


Article (574 Kb)

Copyright Statement
This is a pre-copyedited, author-produced version of an article accepted for publication in The journal of medicine & philosophy following peer review. The version of record Raphael Cohen-Almagor; First Do No Harm: Euthanasia of Patients with Dementia in Belgium, The Journal of Medicine and Philosophy: A Forum for Bioethics and Philosophy of Medicine, Volume 41, Issue 1, 1 February 2016, Pages 74–89 is available online at: and

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