Carnegie Mellon University
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A Right to Die? The Case of Dax Cowart

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journal contribution
posted on 1989-04-25, 00:00 authored by Preston K. Covey

Using footage from two documentary videos, the videodisc presents the famous case of Dax Cowart, a victim of severe burns, blindness and crippling injuries who persists under treatment to insist that he be allowed to die. Through interviews with Dax and other principals in the case (his doctors, lawyer, mother etc.), the user investigates basic ethical issues regarding quality of life, autonomy and competence, the obligations of medical professionals, etc. Throughout, the user must continually address the central dilemma: whether Dax should be granted his request to die, as well as the reasons why / why not. The videodisc will support several hours of interactive exploration of the issues and case material, in two basic modes: 1. Guided inquiry by which the user (or a group of viewers) is led to interact with the visual testimony to the facts, issues, and conflicted viewpoints in the case. 2. Access to archives in which video segments are organized both by major issues and principals. (This mode is appropriate for review; both modes are appropriate for interactive presentation of the case and issues in the classroom.)


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