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Aristotle's Eudaemonia, Terminal Illness, and the Question of Life Support

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Juliet Rothman

Aristotle's concept of eudaemonia, variously translated as «happiness» or «well-being», describes the qualities of human life that make it meaningful and fulfilling. This concept is shown to provide a structure for the examination, consideration, and understanding of an individual life. Questions about life-support are addressed regularly in terminal illness. Such decisions, of vital importance, need to be considered with care and concern. Aristotle's concept is developed into a process that provides a useful structure to guide such consideration and decision-making. Three case studies are presented to demonstrate the potential applicability of eudaemonia to life support decisions.