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The third chapter of Jonathan Glover’s Causing Death and Saving Lives is devoted to the doctrine of the sanctity of life. In this article, I propose to analyse the Gloverian critique of the sanctity of life in its initial presentation. When Glover wrote this work in 1977, the affirmation of the sanctity of life was a recurring theme in public and scientific debates in both England and the United States. While there seems to be some consensus about it, it should be noted that the term “sanctity of life” is very rarely discussed. Jonathan Glover was one of the first philosophers to engage in such an investigation and to show the limits of affirming the sanctity of life. In his analysis, he proposed replacing the defective parts of the doctrine, i.e., those that do not stand up to rational analysis. His contribution is of primary importance not only for the criticism of the doctrine of the sanctity of life, but also for the development of bioethics and its theoretical arguments.
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