Deathbed Norms in Context

Principal Investigator: Prof. Shai Lavi


Law and bioethics have come to play a central role in determining the way we die. This is due, among other reasons, to the medicalization of death and dying, the growing ethical controversies concerning end-of-life treatment, and the central role that state law increasingly plays at the deathbed. Arising normative concerns include withholding and withdrawing medical treatment, hastening death and assisted suicide, the status of advanced directives, and defining the moment of death. Existing literature has commonly examined these normative questions independent of their social, religious, and historical context. In contradistinction, the premise of the proposed research is that universal values such as dignity, autonomy, sanctity of life, as well as the alleviation of physical and spiritual pain, should also be studied within specific cultural, historical, and religious contexts. 


This research project will establish an interdisciplinary research group for studying ‘deathbed norms in context’, as well as the interplay between state law and bioethics and their cultural, historical, and religious context. Special emphasis will be put on studying the uniqueness of deathbed ethics under Jewish and Israeli law in comparison to other countries and religions, as well as in comparison to other controversial bioethical issues.


The core group will be comprised of the above PI and several PhD and MA students, whose work will be supported by Center grants. In addition, the core group will create a broader network of scholars researching related topics and form an ongoing workshop, which will meet monthly to discuss their work. Finally, the core group will participate in the general activities of the Center including workshops and conferences.



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