Dying in the Twenty-First Century

From Basic Bioethics

Dying in the Twenty-First Century

Toward a New Ethical Framework for the Art of Dying Well

Edited by Lydia S. Dugdale

Physicians, philosophers, and theologians consider how to address death and dying for a diverse population in a secularized century.





Physicians, philosophers, and theologians consider how to address death and dying for a diverse population in a secularized century.

Most of us are generally ill-equipped for dying. Today, we neither see death nor prepare for it. But this has not always been the case. In the early fifteenth century, the Roman Catholic Church published the Ars moriendi texts, which established prayers and practices for an art of dying. In the twenty-first century, physicians rely on procedures and protocols for the efficient management of hospitalized patients. How can we recapture an art of dying that can facilitate our dying well? In this book, physicians, philosophers, and theologians attempt to articulate a bioethical framework for dying well in a secularized, diverse society.

Contributors discuss such topics as the acceptance of human finitude; the role of hospice and palliative medicine; spiritual preparation for death; and the relationship between community, and individual autonomy. They also consider special cases, including children, elderly patients with dementia, and death in the early years of the AIDS epidemic, when doctors could do little more than accompany their patients in humble solidarity.

These chapters make the case for a robust bioethics—one that could foster both the contemplation of finitude and the cultivation of community that would be necessary for a contemporary art of dying well.

ContributorsJeffrey P. Bishop, Lisa Sowle Cahill, Daniel Callahan, Farr A. Curlin, Lydia S. Dugdale, Michelle Harrington, John Lantos, Stephen R. Latham, M. Therese Lysaught, Autumn Alcott Ridenour, Peter A. Selwyn, Daniel Sulmasy


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262029124 218 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


$35.00 X ISBN: 9780262534598 218 pp. | 6 in x 9 in


Lydia S. Dugdale

Lydia Dugdale, MD, is an internal medicine physician and Associate Director for the Program for Biomedical Ethics at Yale School of Medicine.


  • Those who work in the health professions and scholars of bioethics will want to read these excellent essays, which address cutting-edge issues around care.


  • The contributors are all fluent speakers of bioethics.... These authors excel at questioning the received wisdom.... Dugdale and her contributors helpfully challenge the mainstream accounts.

    Perspectives in Biology and Medicine

  • The solution to the medicalized death proposed by Dugdale and her co-authors is articulate and organized, yet deeply personal; the chapters include stories about real patients, moments of vulnerability, mistakes and the humanity of medicine.

    Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics