This article examines two current debates in Denmark—assisted suicide and the prioritization of health resources—and proposes that such controversial bioethical issues call for distinct philosophical analyses: first-order examinations, or an applied philosophy approach, and second-order examinations, what might be called a political philosophical approach. The authors argue that although first-order examination plays an important role in teasing out different moral points of view, in contemporary democratic societies, few, if any, bioethical questions can be resolved satisfactorily by means of first-order analyses alone, and that bioethics needs to engage more closely with second-order enquiries and the question of legitimacy in general.
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