Types of Action and Criteria for Individualizing Them: The Case of Omission of Life-Saving Care

  • Pilar ZambranoEmail author
Part of the International Library of Ethics, Law, and the New Medicine book series (LIME, volume 70)


In this chapter we intend to outline and develop the thesis that the intrinsic intelligibility of the types of actions regulated by normative systems is a necessary condition for both the efficiency of their guiding function and the objectivity of their judging function. To support this thesis, we will first analyze the cognitive and semantic assumptions entailed in both the claim that the abstract types of actions are distinguishable, and the claim that individual actions can in fact be individualized or judged. Secondly, these criteria will be applied to the moral distinction between “killing by omission of medical care”, and “tolerating an unavoidable death”. Afterwards, we will briefly address the criteria for the correct specification or individualization of individual actions and/or omissions, as instances of a specific type of action or omission. Lastly, we will allege that more than just a few of the doctrinal and legal proposals advocating the eradication of the distinction between “orthothanasia” and “passive euthanasia” within the bio-legal context wrongly confuse the perspective of bioethical or moral classification and individualization with that of bio-legal classification and individualization.


Normative System Physical Description Moral Choice Moral Legitimacy Physical Type 
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© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Private Law and International RelationsUniversity of NavarraPamplonaSpain

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