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Cathal O Madagain

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PHLB09 2011 Lecture 11
N: so death's always a shame
D: depends on how you die; it can interrupt the meaningfulness of your life, or it can be
consistent with meaningfulness of your life
"Making someone die in a way that others approve, but he believes a horrifying
contradiction of his life, is a devastating, odious form of tyranny" (Dworkin)
If what mattered to you most was to live as long as possible, then taking someone off a
life-support machine might be a harm to them
But if what matters to you most is to live actively, then keeping someone indefinitely on a
LSM might be a harm to them...
Aquinas against Suicide
Kant against Suicide
Active side of our life
oGoal directed, planed, intentional, meaningful
Passive side of our life
oNot intentional, unplanned, experiential
oActive side of our life destroying passive side (could also be destroying your
active side of life)
Reasons for suicide:
oLack of meaningfulness
Can be emotional and unplanned
Can be an act of madness
But often it's very seriously undertaken decision, rational, well planned out (ex. A suicide
Aquinas against suicide:
oAquinas (1225-1274)
o...his life project was to synthesize the work of Aristotle ("the philosopher") with
He made Christianity very sophisticated by doing this, taking fragments
of Aristotle's philosophies
o...he held the new, following Aristotle, that everything has an essential nature
The nature of fire is to warm
The nature of water is to wet
The nature of humanity is to be rational, to reproduce, etc.
For Aristotle, what counts as the nature of a thing is whatever it does mostly
oSays that this is an intrinsic thing in humans
oEvolution - if things have essential natures, then it doesn't make sense to say that
we've evolved from monkeys
Fire typically warms
Rocks typically fall toward the earth
Aquinas adds to this the twist that God created nature
This adds an ethical dimension
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