Morality of Suicide

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JeffD2
 
Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 11:00 am
Let me begin by attempting to define morality. It is "a set of rules that guide individuals in the subject of good and bad behavior". Since good and bad behavior is subjective, morality must be subjective too. Let me explain the following principle: "If you were forced against your own will to take part in a certain event, then you are not morally responsible for the effect, or effects, of the event under consideration." For example, consider an 18-year-old man, Jeff, being held at gunpoint by another 18-year-old man, Jack. This hypothetical setting is taking place in Jack's home. Jack tells Jeff he will kill him, unless Jeff snorts the line of cocaine on Jack's table. Fearing for his life, Jeff snorts the cocaine. After this, Jack puts down the gun and lets Jeff leave the house. While still under the influence of the cocaine, Jeff eventually kills a random person, Joe, walking down the street and in a matter of minutes gets arrested for murder. The fate of Jack is irrelevant. Should Jeff be held morally responsible for the murder of Joe? For the sake of argument, I am assuming that Jeff would have never murdered Joe if he had not been under the influence of cocaine. Let me remind you that Jeff was forced against his own will to snort the cocaine. Thus, according to the principle above, he should not be morally responsible for the murder of Joe, an effect of snorting the cocaine. The main point is that if a reasonable person were to agree with the principle above, then he/she would hold the belief that suicide is not immoral. Nobody in existence has ever been capable of volunteering to be conceived. This implies that everyone throughout the history of the universe was forced against there own will to be conceived. Therefore, a person cannot be held morally responsible for the main effect of his/her conception, his/her life.
 
Bones-O
 
Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 12:07 pm
@JeffD2,
Beyond under the influence of a substance does not comletely negate your own volition. If I'm drunk, I still know it's wrong for me to drive. But let's say Jeff's actions were entirely due to being on the influence of drugs, for instance he hallucinates and believes Joe is attacking him. Is Jeff morally culpable for killing Joe? I claim not. He believed he was acting in self-defense, and his error is not his fault. But how culpable is Jack? Jack forced someone to snort coke, so that's immoral. His actions led to Joe's death, so that's unfortunate. But Jack didn't intend for Joe to die, nor directly cause Joe's death.

Unintended things can happen from any action, good, bad or neutral. It's natural when these unintended consequences are harmful or fatal that we look for the person to blame. However this isn't just a search for moral culpability, but a desire for revenge. The same can happen when dire consequences arise from good or neutral intentions, but we are more likely to recognise them as being unreasonable.
 
kennethamy
 
Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 12:27 pm
@JeffD2,
JeffD2 wrote:
Nobody in existence has ever been capable of volunteering to be conceived. This implies that everyone throughout the history of the universe was forced against there own will to be conceived. Therefore, a person cannot be held morally responsible for the main effect of his/her conception, his/her life.


Does that imply that unless what I do is voluntary, I am doing it contrary to my will? I am being forced to do it? Hmm. So I am then forced to take every breath I take, and am forced to eat every day or so. I have never really looked at it is just that way. And I don't think I will.

By the way, your view that I was involuntarily conceived reminds me of an old joke (at least I always thought it was a joke). A pessimist says, "How much better it would be if we were never born. But who is as fortunate as that? Maybe one in a hundred!".
 
JeffD2
 
Reply Mon 25 May, 2009 02:48 pm
@kennethamy,
kennethamy wrote:
Does that imply that unless what I do is voluntary, I am doing it contrary to my will? I am being forced to do it



I believe that either you voluntarily do something or you are forced to do something.

P.S. I am not suicidal haha. I just thought it was an interesting point of view.

---------- Post added at 04:55 PM ---------- Previous post was at 04:48 PM ----------

Bones-O! wrote:
Unintended things can happen from any action, good, bad or neutral. It's natural when these unintended consequences are harmful or fatal that we look for the person to blame. However this isn't just a search for moral culpability, but a desire for revenge. The same can happen when dire consequences arise from good or neutral intentions, but we are more likely to recognise them as being unreasonable.


Yes, I agree that we look for people to blame when someone bad happens as a result of bad intentions. I also think that people sometimes look for other people to blame when something bad happens, even if the intentions are good/neutral.
 
classicchinadoll
 
Reply Mon 5 Apr, 2010 02:29 am
@JeffD2,
JeffD2;64928 wrote:
Let me begin by attempting to define morality. It is "a set of rules that guide individuals in the subject of good and bad behavior". Since good and bad behavior is subjective, morality must be subjective too. Let me explain the following principle: "If you were forced against your own will to take part in a certain event, then you are not morally responsible for the effect, or effects, of the event under consideration." For example, consider an 18-year-old man, Jeff, being held at gunpoint by another 18-year-old man, Jack. This hypothetical setting is taking place in Jack's home. Jack tells Jeff he will kill him, unless Jeff snorts the line of cocaine on Jack's table. Fearing for his life, Jeff snorts the cocaine. After this, Jack puts down the gun and lets Jeff leave the house. While still under the influence of the cocaine, Jeff eventually kills a random person, Joe, walking down the street and in a matter of minutes gets arrested for murder. The fate of Jack is irrelevant. Should Jeff be held morally responsible for the murder of Joe? For the sake of argument, I am assuming that Jeff would have never murdered Joe if he had not been under the influence of cocaine. Let me remind you that Jeff was forced against his own will to snort the cocaine. Thus, according to the principle above, he should not be morally responsible for the murder of Joe, an effect of snorting the cocaine. The main point is that if a reasonable person were to agree with the principle above, then he/she would hold the belief that suicide is not immoral. Nobody in existence has ever been capable of volunteering to be conceived. This implies that everyone throughout the history of the universe was forced against there own will to be conceived. Therefore, a person cannot be held morally responsible for the main effect of his/her conception, his/her life.


I would argue that suicide is not immoral on other grounds, people who commit suicide are suffering, they choose suicide because the suffering they feel exceeds their ability to cope with that suffering, If someone were to give up custody of their children because they couldn't cope no matter how they tried I wouldn't believe it an immoral decision, people can't do the impossible and are limited by their ability as with suicide.
 
 

 
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