Date of Original Version



Book Chapter

Rights Management

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Abstract or Description

A Right to Die? The Case of Dax Cowart is an interactive videodisc program developed at Carnegie Mellon University's Center for Design of Educational Computing (CDEC). The control software is written in PilotPlus to run on an IBM XT/PC, AT, or PS/2 driving a Pioneer 6000 or 4200 videodisc player and an IBM InfoWindow Touch Display system, which allows text and graphics to be overlayed on the video presentation.

The program presents the famous and now classic case of Dax Cowart, a victim of severe burns, blindness, and crippling injuries who persists under treatment to insist that he be allowed to discontinue treatment and 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, patient interests and rights, the conflicting interests and obligations of medical professionals, etc. Throughout, the user must continually address the central dilemma: Whether Dax should be granted his request to die and what reasons should support the decision.

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