The psychological slippery slope from physician-assisted death to active euthanasia: a paragon of fallacious reasoning.

Research paper by Jordan J Potter

Indexed on: 27 Aug '18Published on: 27 Aug '18Published in: Medicine, Health Care and Philosophy


In the debate surrounding the morality and legality of the practices of physician-assisted death and euthanasia, a common logical argument regularly employed against these practices is the "slippery slope argument." One formulation of this argument claims that acceptance of physician-assisted death will eventually lead down a "slippery slope" into acceptance of active euthanasia, including its voluntary, non-voluntary, and/or involuntary forms, through psychological and social processes that warp a society's values and moral perspective of a practice over an extended period of time. This formulation is known as the psychological slippery slope argument. This paper analyzes the psychological slippery slope argument as it is applied to the practice of physician-assisted death, and utilizing recent empirical evidence from various nations around the world that practice physician-assisted death and/or euthanasia, the paper argues that (1) employing the psychological slippery slope argument against physician-assisted death is logically fallacious, (2) this kind of slippery slope is unfounded in practice, and thus (3) the psychological slippery slope argument is insufficient on its own to justify continued legal prohibition of physician-assisted death.