Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Document Type



The Right of Hospitality: Conditions of Death in America calls Western biomedicine’s approach to death into question. Death unifies all human experiences and is always possible, despite the human tendency to deny its existence and, instead, orient the self towards a futurity that is always out of reach. This project investigates the structures influencing how death in America occurs, and traces the roots of Western culture’s rejection of death to the execution by hemlock of Socrates’ immortalized in the Phaedo. Western biomedicine’s institutionalization of medicine requires that both patients and doctors enter into imbalanced hospitable relationships, and these pressures, along with the rejection of discourse about death, make for a difficult and dehumanizing end-of-life care system in America today. Case studies of contemporary experiences of death—including Oregon State’s Death with Dignity Act, Brittany Maynard’s end-of-life activism, and a patient’s dissatisfaction at the extension of his life—provide opportunities for teasing out the ethical issues surrounding end-of-life. Ultimately, the options presented to patients at end-of-life are not simply a matter of hospitality; they are a human rights issue. This issue promises to dramatically alter the experiences of the world’s rapidly growing number of humans kept alive by modern medicine, and if it is left uninvestigated, will force Americans into woefully insufficient end-of-life care.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Secure the entire work for patent and/or proprietary purposes for a period of one year. Student has submitted appropriate documentation which states: During this period the copyright owner also agrees not to exercise her/his ownership rights, including public use in works, without prior authorization from LSU. At the end of the one year period, either we or LSU may request an automatic extension for one additional year. At the end of the one year secure period (or its extension, if such is requested), the work will be released for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Heifferon, Barbara