PHLB09 2011 Lecture 12
•But isn't killing yourself consistent with your autonomy? It's your choice…
•Kant: it undermines the principle upon which your autonomy rests - being alive.
Therefore, it's against your autonomy
•Hume (1711 - 1776)
oHis lecture on suicide was published after he died
oHe was born within 100 ye ars of the last execution of a man in England for
oHe was fired from a post in Glasgow University for suspicions of atheism
•Sets himself up to oppose the "poison" of superstition and false religion
o"even sleep affords him a new ter ror: while he examines his dreams, he finds
prognostications of future calamities"
•"...tho dead alone can put a full end to his misery, he dare not fly to this refuge lest he
offend his maker…"
•"...let us here endeavour to restore [people] to their native liberty, by showing that that
action may be free from every imputation of guilt…"
•Hume examines Aquinas' arguments, and Kant's too
oAgainst our community
oAgainst our duty to ourselves (Kant)
•AGAINST OUR NATURE:
o"To govern the world, the almighty has established immutable laws" (laws of
nature, laws of physics)
o"To govern the animal world he has endowed all living creatures with...passions,
o"...when the passions play, when the judgment dictates; this is all the operation of
o"...people are entrusted to their own judgment and discretion, and may employ
every faculty to provide for their own ease, happiness, or preservation"
oIn other words, we have been endowed with free will, so that's part of God's work
o...so let's get back to this prohibition against "interr upting" nature…
•Every event in the natural world is a result of the course of nature
oIf we are prohibited from inter r upting the course of nature in general…
oThen we can't save our lives either
•Damming a lake would be prohibited… (like a water dam)
•Medicine would be prohibited…
oSince germs and disease are perfectly natural…
•Preventing a falling rock from caving in my head would be prohibited…
•Our free will is part of nature
oSo if we're only allowed to do what is natural, then this doesn't exclude doing
anything our free will dictates…
•Upshot: distinguishing what's "natural" from what's "unnatural" makes no sense at all…
•AGAINST GOD ('GOD GIVES LIFE AND GOD TAKES AWAY')
oDid God place me here?
•What about my parents?