Ethics of robotic assisted dying

Ryan Stewart Tonkens

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (Book)Researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


The purpose of this chapter is to introduce and critically assess the prospect of robotic assisted dying , i.e., the use of (semi-) autonomous robots for the purpose of assisting willing terminally ill patients in dying, in the medical context. The central conclusion reached here is this: Assuming that physician-assisted suicide is morally permissible, if we develop robots to serve as human caregivers in medical contexts ( carebots ), and given that assistance in dying is sometimes an important aspect of geriatric care, it is morally permissible for such robots to be able to facilitate and assist in the dying of those patients, in those contexts, at the eligible patient's sound request. At least, there is nothing inherent in this prospect that introduces moral problems beyond those attached to the development and use of geriatric carebots or (human) physician-assisted suicide in general. One major benefit of robotic assisted dying is that the robot would always assist those consenting patients that are genuinely eligible, and thus such patients would not be at the mercy of a willing physician clause in order to have some control over the timing and manner of their death (something that routinely usurps the effectiveness of human physician-assisted suicide in practice).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMachine Medical Ethics
EditorsSimon Peter van Rysewyk, Matthijs Pontier
Place of PublicationSwitzerland
Pages207 - 221
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9783319081076
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameIntelligent Systems, Control and Automation: Science and Engineering

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