Terry Pratchett Shakes Hands with Death

Michal Stránský


In 2007, the famous author of fantasy novels – sir Terry Pratchett – discovered that he suffers from the rare form of Alzheimer’s disease. He decided not to wait to be taken away by his disease and he has become one of the most influential proponents of euthanasia. I will offer the reconstruction of Pratchett’s argumentation, which he presented during his Richard Dimbleby Lecture in 2010. Terry Pratchett is explicitly dealing with three famous arguments against the assisted death – Care or Killing Argument, Forced Euthanasia Argument and God Argument. After the rejection of every one of them, he comes to the conclusion that there is no good reason, why he shouldn’t die under his own terms, and he claims the right to do so. This conception of the assisted death as something legitimate inspires me to two questions: Firstly, if we recognize the right to assisted death, why are we unwilling to engage in the similar discussion about the rights of suicides? Terry Pratchett refuses to talk about the suicide, but his reasons for acceptation of the assisted death are valid for the acceptation of self-inflicted death without the medical urgency as well. Secondly, what form should assisted death take legally and of which experts should the authorized committee consist? Pratchett’s conclusions imply that the philosophers should take the place in such process.


Terry Pratchett; assisted death; suicide; right to die


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PRATCHETT, T. „Shaking Hands with Death“. In Richard Dimbleby Lecture 2010. Royal College of Physicians, London. 2010. Lecture.

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Published by the Department of Philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Masaryk University, Brno, Czech Republic.
ISSN: 1212-9097