Lecture notes

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Published on 1 Jun 2011
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 nature
oAgainst our community
oAgainst God
oAgainst our duty to ourselves (Kant)
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,
appetites, judgment…"
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
oDid God place me here?
What about my parents?
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