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What Living Wills Won't Do

From the April 18, 2005 issue: The limits of autonomy.

Apr 18, 2005, Vol. 10, No. 29 • By ERIC COHEN
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We will face imperfect options, as societies always do. In navigating the dangers, we will need to rely on more than the gospel of autonomy, and we will need to confront the failure of living wills and the ideology they rest upon: that deciding for others is always to be avoided. In reality, deciding for others is what many of us will be required to do as parents age or spouses decline, and we will do well to accept this burden with moral sobriety rather than pretending it does not exist.

Eric Cohen is editor of the New Atlantis and resident scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.