Binding and Hoche’s “Life Unworthy of Life”: A historical and ethical analysis

Howard Brody, M. Wayne Cooper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The 1920 essay by German attorney Karl Binding and psychiatrist Alfred Hoche, “Permitting the Destruction of Life Unworthy of Life,” is often characterized as a stepping-stone toward the Nazi genocide policies. A careful review of Binding and Hoche’s arguments does reveal elements that foreshadow Nazi thinking, but it also contains points that fail to parallel-or that directly contradict-Nazi death practices. A proper ethical and historical analysis of this work requires a more nuanced discussion than it often receives.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)500-511
Number of pages12
JournalPerspectives in Biology and Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jan 11 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • History and Philosophy of Science


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