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What can care ethics contribute to the debate on the ethical and political dimensions of end-of-life?

November 7, 2023 at 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM

Location:A602 Loeb Building

Iris Parra Jounou
Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona

Who has tried to change my mind? Almost everyone in society.
The question remaining is: Who has supported me?
Erin (nickname)

End-of-life care includes a wide range of practices carried out by health professionals as well as families, friends, and other social actors and institutions. Their aim is to accompany people at the end of their lives and meet their physical, psychological, social, and spiritual needs. It is a holistic approach to death, which is sometimes difficult to achieve due to a range of organizational, economic, social, or legal challenges.

My claim is that care ethics understood as a political and ethical theoretical framework can help achieve a better end-of-life care in all its dimensions. How? First, insofar as care ethics is based on relational ontology and a different conception of epistemology that is attentive to power relations and inequalities, it is the perfect tool to evaluate critically the limitations of the mainstream frameworks (e.g., liberal-individualist, legalistic, right-based). In other words, care ethics can help us to answer metaethical questions about the role and nature of morality in socio-legal and political contexts. Second, as it also has a normative aspect, care ethics can propose some alternatives to ameliorating current end-of-life care practices and policies from a feminist and intersectional perspective.

In order to illustrate these philosophical claims, I will draw on a ‘real world’ example –a case study of the Spanish organic Law 3/2021 on the Regulation of Euthanasia (Medical Assistance in Dying [MAiD]), and the empirical research that I have conducted with colleagues that seeks to translate these ideas into practice.

Iris Parra Jounou holds a degree in Nursing Studies by the University of Barcelona (2011) and a degree in Humanities by the University Pompeu Fabra (2019). She has a postgraduate degree in Urgent Prehospital Care (2013) and a MA in Contemporary Thought and Classical Tradition (2020). She worked as a nurse for some years in Institut Guttmann of neurorehabilitation and has been part of multiple musical projects and is a writer and a poet with five published books. She is currently doing her PhD in Moral Philosophy in the Philosophy Department of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona where she works on care ethics and end-of-life.