[German Version] I. Concept – II. History – III. Differentiations – IV. Evaluation
I. Concept The expression “life-not-worth-living” is synonymous with “mercy killing” and refers, primarily, to the programs of euthanasia carried out in the so-called Third Reich (National Socialism). In these programs of euthanasia, people capable and willing to live were killed with the justification that their lives were not worth living, not useful to society and nation. From the outset, the qualifier “worth” signifies “valued, regarded” – also in an address –, “considered valuable.” The substantive “value” originally meant the same as “price” (
pretium) or “worth,” also “esteem” (
valor). Philosophy first consciously employed the term “worth” in the 19th century, after it had previously denoted economic value. The philosophy of worth sought to fill a vacuum left behind by a mechanistic worldview (R.H. Lotze). Values were supposed to indicate an evaluation (W. Windelband, Heinrich Rickert) or to express the quality of goods (M. Scheler). In this context, the term “value of life” also first appeared.
II. History In antiquity, Plato and Aristotle advocated the …