- David Hume (1711—1776)
- Analysis of Suicide by David Hume Essay
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SparkNotes: An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding this claim places hume squarely in the empiricist tradition, and he regularly uses this principle as a test for determining the content of an idea under consideration. Hume's Aesthetics Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy - pragmatism, empiricism and david hume pragmatism is based on the philosophy that ideas must be tested and re-tested, that experiences dictate reality. SparkNotes: David Hume — durkheim and hume label suicide differently because their perspectives varied from the moral structures in their positions.
To which is added, two letters on suicide, from Rosseau's [sic] Eloisa. Two essays. Essays on suicide, and the immortality of the soul: ascribed to the late David Hume, Esq. Two essays Hume, David, London : printed for M. Smith; and sold by the booksellers in Piccadilly, Fleet-street, and Paternoster-row, Intended to be printed in 'Four dissertations', , but suppressed from publication DNB ; published at London first in as 'Two essays'.
First, it does not seem to follow from having a right to life that a person has a right to death, i.
David Hume (1711—1776)
Because others are morally prohibited from killing me, it does not follow that I am permitted to kill me. This conclusion is made stronger if the right to life is inalienable, since in order for me to kill myself, I must first renounce my inalienable right to life, which I cannot do Feinberg Furthermore, as with the property-based argument, the right to self-determination is presumably circumscribed by the possibility of harm to others.
Those who argue that suicide can violate our duties to others generally claim that suicide can harm either specific others family, friends, etc. No doubt the suicide of a family member or loved one produces a number of harmful psychological and economic effects. Suicide also leads to rage, loneliness, and awareness of vulnerability in those left behind. Indeed, the sense that suicide is an essentially selfish act dominates many popular perceptions of suicide Fedden , Still, some of these reactions may be due to the strong stigma and shame associated with suicide, in which case these reactions cannot, without logical circularity, be invoked in arguments that suicide is wrong because it produces these psychological reactions Pabst Battin , 68— Suicide can also cause clear economic or material harm, as when the suicidal person leaves behind dependents unable to support themselves financially.
However, even if suicide is harmful to family members or loved ones, this does not support an absolute prohibition on suicide, since some suicides will not leave survivors, and among those that do, the extent of these harms is likely to differ such that the stronger these relationships are, the more harmful suicide is and the more likely it is to be morally wrong. Besides, from a utilitarian perspective, these harms would have to be weighed against the harms done to the would-be suicide by continuing to live a difficult or painful life. At most, the argument that suicide is a harm to family and to loved ones establishes that it is sometimes wrong Cholbi , 62— A second brand of social argument echoes Aristotle in asserting that suicide is a harm to the community or the state.
One general form such arguments take is that because a community depends on the economic and social productivity of its members, its members have an obligation to contribute to their society, an obligation clearly violated by suicide Pabst Battin , 70—78, Cholbi , 58— For example, suicide denies a society the labor provided by its members, or in the case of those with irreplaceable talents such as medicine, art, or political leadership, the crucial goods their talents enable them to provide. Another version states that suicide deprives society of whatever individuals might contribute to society morally by way of charity, beneficence, moral example, etc.
After all, individuals often fail to contribute as much as they might in terms of their labor or special talents without incurring moral blame. It does not therefore seem to be the case that individuals are morally required to benefit society in whatever way they are capable, regardless of the harms to themselves. Again, this line of argument appears to show at most only that suicide is sometimes wrong, namely, when the benefit in terms of future harm not suffered the individual gains by dying is less than the benefits she would deny to society by dying.
On this view, an individual and the society in which she lives stand in a reciprocal relationship such that in exchange for the goods the society has provided to the individual, the individual must continue to live in order to provide her society with the goods that relationship demands. Moreover, once an individual has discharged her obligations under this societal contract, she no longer is under an obligation to continue her life. Hence, the aged or others who have already made substantial contributions to societal welfare would be morally permitted to engage in suicide under this argument.
To this point, we have addressed arguments that concern whether a moral permission to engage in suicidal behavior exists, and indeed, it is this question that has dominated ethical discussion of suicide. Yet the social arguments against suicide are fundamentally consequentialist, and some act-utilitarians have discussed the correlative possibility that the good consequences of suicide might so outweigh its bad consequences as to render suicide admirable or even morally obligatory Cosculluela , 76— In fact, in some cases, suicide may be honorable.
Analysis of Suicide by David Hume Essay
Suicides that are clearly other-regarding, aiming at protecting the lives or well-being of others, or at political protest, may fall into this category Kupfer , 73— Examples of this might include the grenade-jumping soldier mentioned earlier, or the spy who takes his life in order not to be subjected to torture that will lead to his revealing vital military secrets. Utilitarians have given particular attention to the question of end-of-life euthanasia, suggesting that at the very least, those with painful terminal illnesses have a right to voluntary euthanasia Glover , chs.
Yet utilitarian views hold that we have a moral duty to maximize happiness, from which it follows that when an act of suicide will produce more happiness than will remaining alive, then that suicide is not only morally permitted, but morally required. See Hardwig et al.
This worry may reflect an implicit acceptance of a variation of the sanctity of life view see section 3. Other critics suggest that even if there is a duty to die, this duty should not be understood as a duty that entails that others may compel those with such a duty to take their lives Menzel , Narveson Questions about social justice and equality whether, for example, especially vulnerable populations such as women or the poor might be more likely to act on such a duty are also raised. One utilitarian response to these objections is to reject a duty to die on rule utilitarian grounds: Suicide would be morally forbidden because general adherence to a rule prohibiting suicide would produce better overall consequences than would general adherence to a rule permitting suicide Brandt , Pabst Battin , 96— A more restricted version of the claim that we have a right to noninterference regarding suicide holds that suicide is permitted so long as—leaving aside questions of duties to others—it is rationally chosen.
In a similar vein, Kantians might claim that suicidal choices must be respected if those choices are autonomous , that is, if an individual chooses to end her life on the basis of reasons that she acknowledges as relevant to her situation. Such positions are narrower than the libertarian view, in that they permit suicide only when it is performed on a rational basis or a rational basis that the individual acknowledges as relevant to her situation and permits others to interfere only when it is not performed on that basis.
What those contemplating ending their lives are considering are different durations of their lives, or as Richard Brandt put it:. For the most part, suicidal individuals do not manifest signs of systemic irrationality, much less the signs of legally definable insanity, Radden and engage in suicidal conduct voluntarily. However, these facts are consistent with the choice to engage in suicidal behavior being irrational, and serious questions can be raised about just how often the conditions for rational suicide are met in actual cases of self-inflicted death.
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Suicidal persons can also have difficulty fully acknowledging the finality of their death, believing that assuming there is no afterlife they will somehow continue to be subjects of conscious experience after they die. Particularly worrisome is the evident link between suicidal thoughts and mental illnesses such as depression. While disagreement continues about the strength of this link Pabst Battin , 5 little doubt exists that the presence of depression or other mood disorders greatly increases the likelihood of suicidal behavior.
The suicidally depressed can also exhibit romanticized and grandiose beliefs about the likely effects of their deaths delusions of martyrdom, revenge, etc. Furthermore, suicidal persons are often hesitant about their own actions, hoping that others will intervene and signaling to others the hope that they will intervene Shneidman Finally, although repeated suicide attempts by the same individual are common, the impulse to suicidal behavior is often transient and dissipates of its own accord Blauner Taken together, these considerations indicate that the scope of suicidal conduct that genuinely manifests fully informed and rational self-evaluation may be rare and so only occasionally will suicide be rational or morally permissible.
With the exception of the libertarian position that each person has a right against others that they not interfere with her suicidal intentions Szasz each of the moral positions on suicide we have addressed so far would appear to justify others intervening in suicidal plans, at least on some occasions. Pleading with a suicidal individual, trying to convince her of the value of continued life, recommending counseling, etc. The more challenging moral question is whether more coercive measures such as physical restraint, medication, deception, or institutionalization are ever justified to prevent suicide and when.
In short, the question of suicide intervention is a question of how to justify paternalistic interference Kleinig , 96— As mentioned in section 3. Lastly, if there is sometimes a duty to prevent acts of suicide, is it ever morally permissible, or even morally obligatory, to aid others in ending their lives? This possibility is directly related to physician-assisted suicide and the larger question of whether the right to suicide is a claim right.
Pabst Battin , — Sections 3. However, suicide also raises what might be termed ethical questions, such as whether suicide exemplifies virtue. Conversely, under what conditions does an act of suicide exhibit such vices as cowardice, selfishness, or rashness? While such questions are germane to whether suicide is defensible all things considered, they are infrequently addressed in the philosophical literature though see van Zyl ; Hardwig can plausibly be read as claiming that continuing to live is sometimes selfish.
For the twentieth century existentialists, suicide was not a choice to be made mainly by appeal to moral considerations but by analyzing whether suicide is an appropriate response to the absurdity or meaninglessness of the world and of human endeavor. Albert Camus illustrated this absurdity in his philosophical essay The Myth of Sisyphus.
For Camus, Sisyphus heroically does not try to escape his absurd task of endlessly and futilely pushing a rock up a mountain, but instead perseveres and in so doing resists the lure of suicide. Suicide, Camus contends, tempts us with the promise of an illusory freedom from the absurdity of our existence, but is in the end an abdication of our responsibility to confront or defy that absurdity head on Campbell and Collinson , 61— Jean-Paul Sartre was likewise struck by the possibility of suicide as an assertion of authentic human will in the face of absurdity.
Suicide represents, according to Sartre, an opportunity to stake out our understanding of our essence as individuals in a godless world. Questions of whether a life saturated with pain or suffering can be meaningful have also played a part in recent debates about the justification of assisted suicide Little , Varelius As the foregoing discussion indicates, suicide has been and continues to be a rich field of philosophical investigation. However, many of the same issues and concerns that surround PAS and euthanasia also surround run-of-the mill suicide, and many writers who address the former often disregard the vast literature on the latter.
In addition to the entry on voluntary euthanasia, Dworkin et al.
(PDF) Hume's Defense of Suicide | Ben Burgis - jewlsanroline.ga
Not only is suicide worthy of philosophical investigation in its own right, it is a source of insight for various philosophical subdisciplines: moral psychology, ethical theory, social and political philosophy, the metaphysics of personhood, and action theory. Suicide is also an area where philosophical interests intersect with those of the empirical sciences. The collective efforts of philosophers and others continue to illuminate one of the most enigmatic of human behaviors. Characterizing Suicide 2. Highlights of Historical Western Thought 2.
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The Morality and Rationality of Suicide 3. Conclusion Bibliography A. Historical pre Works Cited B. Works Cited, —Present C. Characterizing Suicide Surprisingly, philosophical difficulties emerge when we attempt to characterize suicide precisely, and attempts to do so introduce intricate issues about how to describe and explain human action. Such an emphasis should not obscure the rich traditions of thought originating outside those geographical confines, however. Important thinkers from Africa, Asia, and the indigenous populations of the Western hemisphere took a philosophical interest in suicide.
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Little appears to unite philosophical thinking about suicide from these traditions aside from the fact that they are far less influenced by monotheism than is the Western tradition. Some of the ethical considerations concerning suicide raised in these traditions are also found in Western thought. For instance, the claim that suicide may violate ethical duties to others is addressed by Confucius, who primarily views the matter through the lens of filial piety Confucius Others, for example the Jain practice of sallekhana , a type of spiritual fasting intended to hasten death, do not seem to have correlates in the Western tradition Umaswati Unfortunately, the diversity of positions within the non-Western traditions preclude easy summation.
Those interested in these traditions are urged to consult Battin The online archive of Battin is particularly useful in this regard; users can search for philosophical writings on suicide based on geographic origin and intellectual tradition. Even for the foolish, who are also miserable, it is appropriate for them to remain alive if they possess a predominance of those things which we pronounce to be in accordance with nature Cicero, III, 60— But clearly it is not wrong, since God frequently permits us to contravene these laws, for he does not expect us not to respond to disease or other calamities.