Should we be allowed to take our own lives

Should we be allowed to take our own lives - Should we be...

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Should we be allowed to take our own lives? In many cultures ancient and not so ancient suicide has been seen as the best option in certain circumstances. Cato the Younger committed suicide rather than live under Caesar. For the Stoics there was nothing necessarily immoral in suicide, which could be rational and the best option (Long 1986, 206). Conversely, in the Christian tradition, suicide has largely been seen as immoral, defying the will of God, being socially harmful and opposed to nature (Edwards 2000). This view, to follow Hume, ignores the fact that by dint suicide being possible it is not against nature or God (Hume 1986). Nevertheless, the idea of being allowed to take our own lives impinges on the ethics of public policy in a variety of ways. Here we will briefly examine the case of physician-assisted suicide (PAS) where an individual’s wishing to die may be aided by the action of another. Hume considered suicide to be ‘free from every imputation of guilt or blame’ (Hume 1986, 20) and indeed suicide has not been a crime in the UK since 1961 (Martin 1997, 451). Aiding, abetting, counselling or procuring a suicide is however a special statutory crime, although few prosecutions are brought. Recently the issue of PAS has brought the debate about ‘whether and under what conditions individuals should be able to determine the time and manner of their deaths, and whether they should be able to enlist the help of physicians’ (Steinbock 2005, 235). The British Medical Association opposes euthanasia (mercy killing) but accepts both legally and
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This note was uploaded on 07/29/2011 for the course BUS 444 taught by Professor Lynn during the Spring '11 term at Keuka.

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Should we be allowed to take our own lives - Should we be...

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