From criminality to compassion reforming Scots law on assisted dying : a Fullerian, compassion-based analysis

  • Amanda-Jane Ward

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis is an internal critique of the Scots Law concerning assisted dying (AD) using Lon Fuller’s desiderata as the lens to examine the law. When measured against Fuller’s criteria, it is clear that how Scots legal institutions have approached this issue fails the test for ‘good law’. Previous attempts to reform the law (using the principles of autonomy and dignity as their underpinnings) have highlighted the lack of clarity in Scots Law on AD but have failed to pass Stage 1 of the legislative process. However, the matter is not settled, and issues with the law persist, resulting in severe and far-reaching negative consequences, both for the legal/political landscape but also on a practical societal level, where the needs of those suffering at the end of life who want the choice of AD have not been addressed proportionately. In a bid to rectify this, a novel approach has been deduced; implicit in the values accepted by Scotland’s legal and political order and its wider society is compassion, and this value is used as the basis for law reform recommendations. Compassion incorporated at the law-making stage (opposed to after the fact in judicial decisions, for example) is little studied, but legal scholars are paying it increased attention; thus, compassion’s use in this context becomes convincing as the argument develops. Therefore, the issue is twofold – an analysis of the Scots Law on AD using Fuller’s lens as the tool to critique the law and highlight its failings. After that, to incorporate compassion as the basis of law reform to rectify the negative consequences for society as a whole. This has evolved to become what I term the Fuller + Compassion formula.
Date of Award8 Nov 2022
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SponsorsUniversity of Strathclyde
SupervisorMary Neal (Supervisor) & Rhonda Wheate (Supervisor)

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