Sunday, January 04, 2004

There's a Washington Post article on the state of legalized euthanasia in the Netherlands.

I can't say that I would support the legalization of euthanasia in the U.S. I accept that it covertly happens and I don't believe in prying too closely into cases where a death that was plausibly natural may have actually been a closet case of euthanasia. But if it happens, it doesn't need the legitimization of law.

It is hard for some people to understand this part of my political philosophy, that sometimes possibly good things should remain illegal. I justify it thus: I don't personally believe in the "rule of law" as an unbending principle by which to organize society. Rather it is a heuristic for creating order. It would be otherwise nigh impossible to create and enforce laws that are perfectly just because justice demands perfect knowledge of the situation in which an act is performed. We need an arbitrary reference point.

Plato had his crappy unworkable utopia that he called The Republic. If I had my way, my ideal state would have law enforcement that understands the need to occasionally look the other way.

So, back to euthanasia. I'd keep it illegal. And I wouldn't press too closely if it looks like it may have occurred, so long as those involved pay lip service to the idea that euthanasia should remain illegal. I prefer a curtain of opacity around some decision-making processes. Is plausible deniability too much to ask for?

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