Macquarie University
01whole.pdf (3.2 MB)

The choice theory and the right to life: capital punishment, abortion and euthanasia

Download (3.2 MB)
posted on 2022-03-29, 03:21 authored by Yujie Zhang
This thesis deals with debate about the legitimacy of capital punishment, abortion and euthanasia. It adopts the two competing theories of rights - the will and the interest- to examine existing arguments, for the purpose of finding a fresh argument that can provide a legally robust answer to such debate. The thesis highlights the modern version of the will approach, namely the Choice Theory, which defines a right as a choice held by the right holder over the performance of the duty bearer. This thesis contends that all existing arguments regarding the debate can be interpreted as resting on certain accounts of the right to life, via the concept of a will, a choice, a benefit or an interest. When conceived in this way, weaknesses and strengths of the arguments, namely their ability or inability to reach definite, consistent and acceptable conclusions to the three practices in question, can be critiqued usefully. The best argument is therefore one that possesses merits of certainty, conclusiveness, consistency and acceptability; the thesis finds this to be one raised on the grounds of rights that implies a concept of the right to life as a choice. This leads to the conclusion that capital punishment, abortion and euthanasia all ought to be permitted, unless the law has otherwise incorporated a duty to the contrary. The Choice Theory proves to be the most reliable interpretation of the right to life as regards the legitimacy of the three issues.


Table of Contents

Part One. Introduction and background. Chapter One. Introduction Chapter Two. The right to life debate Chapter Three. The two main theories of rights -- Part Two. Interpreting existing arguments via the two main theories of rights. Chapter Four. Capital punishment Chapter Five. Abortion Chapter Six. Euthanasia -- Chapter Seven. Conclusion and further implications -- Bibliography.


Theoretical thesis. "A thesis submitted in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Law under a co-tutelle arrangement Bibliography: pages 229-261 Macquarie Law School, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia and Koguan Law School Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai, China" -- page ii.

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Arts, Macquarie Law School

Department, Centre or School

Macquarie Law School

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Malcolm Voyce

Additional Supervisor 1

Jinxue Fan


Copyright Yujie Zhang 2017. Copyright disclaimer:




1 online resource (x, 261 pages)

Former Identifiers