Suicide: Its Nature and
This paper has two purposes: to clarify what suicide is and to discuss its moral evaluation. These are not so easily kept separate, since it is just the traditional condemnation of suicide that often inhibits us from thinking of justified life-taking as suicide. We should not, however, so define suicide that it is logically impossible to have a justified suicide. Some suicides may be justified, even obligatory or noble. Consequently, I shall try to give an analysis of suicide that permits a range of moral evaluation. I shall proceed on the assumption that one way to develop an understanding of suicide is to examine a variety of cases: the ascription of suicide being sometimes clear, sometimes problematic.
Let's begin with cases that are clearly suicide, and see what makes them clear. Consider someone who has just lost his business and with it his life savings. He is crushed but not pathologically depressed or "out of his mind." He knows what he is doing and thinks it over for quite a while. He then proceeds to "take his own life." Or, consider someone in prison for life. He tries living in prison for several years, but after much self-searching decides that life like this really isn't worth living. He chooses to die rather than live a circumscribed life.
Both of these seem to me to be clear cases of suicide, however well or poorly justified. What makes them such? I think that here it pays to be obvious. The individual chose to end his own life and took the appropriate action. Clearly, there were other options and the individual wanted to die. It wasn't as if death was about____________________
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Publication information: Book title: Suicide:Right or Wrong?. Edition: 2nd. Contributors: John Donnelly - Editor. Publisher: Prometheus Books. Place of publication: Amherst, NY. Publication year: 1998. Page number: 162.
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