How Ethical Systems Change: Tolerable Suffering and Assisted Dying: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

How Ethical Systems Change: Tolerable Suffering and Assisted Dying

1st Edition

By Sheldon Ekland-Olson, Elyshia Aseltine


86 pages

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Medical advances prolong life. They also sometimes prolong suffering. Should we protect life or alleviate suffering? This dilemma formed the foundation for a powerful right-to-die movement and a counterbalancing concern over an emerging culture of death. What are the qualities of a life worth living? Where are the boundaries of tolerable suffering? This book is based on a hugely popular undergraduate course taught at the University of Texas, and is ideal for those interested in the social construction of social worth, social problems, and social movements.

This book is part of a larger text, Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Decides?,

Table of Contents

1. What Lies Ahead 2. Limits to Tolerable Suffering 3. Alleviating Suffering and Protecting Life 4. God, Duty, and Life Worth Living 5. Assisted Dying

About the Authors

Sheldon Ekland-Olson joined The University of Texas at Austin after completing his graduate work at the University of Washington in Seattle and Yale Law School. He is currently the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Centennial Professor of Liberal Arts. For five years he served as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and then for eight years as Executive Vice President and Provost of the university. He has authored or co-authored several books and numerous articles on criminal justice, prison reform, and capital punishment. Widely recognized for his commitment to teaching undergraduates, he is the recipient of numerous teaching awards. His current interests are reflected in the book manuscript, Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Decides?

Elyshia Aseltine is an Assistant Professor of Criminal Justice and Criminology at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. She joined the Lycoming faculty after completing her graduate work in sociology at The University of Texas at Austin. Her research focuses on punishment and inequality in the United States and Africa.

About the Series

Framing 21st Century Social Issues

The goal of this new, unique Series is to offer readable, teachable "thinking frames" on today’s social problems and social issues by leading scholars, all in short 60 page or shorter formats, and available for view on

For instructors teaching a wide range of courses in the social sciences, the Routledge Social Issues Collection now offers the best of both worlds: originally written short texts that provide "overviews" to important social issues as well as teachable excerpts from larger works previously published by Routledge and other presses.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Death & Dying
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Disease & Health Issues