Week 9 – Suicide
Do you have a moral obligation to yourself or to others not to kill yourself? If so, when, if ever,
can this obligation be superseded?
- Do you have reasons to not kill yourself
- If you do, then when, under what circumstances, can this obligation be superseded?
(this supposes that there is an obligation by using the word “if”)
- Critical of the notion that suicide is morally wrong and that it is a crime equivalent to
o Why is murder wrong?
o Is suicide morally equivalent to murder?
o Thinks murder and suicide is not the same thing: one friend kills themselves, the
other kills another person. Do you feel differently towards each friend?
- No philosopher has given a convincing argument against suicide
- Does one have to be insane to commit suicide?
- Believes there might be good reasons to commit suicide
- However, he does not endorse suicide
o It is seen as an irrational thing to do
o Schopenhauer thinks that this is false, there can be good reasons
- Stoics: can imagine certain circumstances when it is okay to commit suicide
- There are certain societies that see suicide as an honorable thing to do but in most
societies it is seen as a bad thing
- Attacks Judaism/Christianity on this basis
Suicide might be rational in some cases, but that doesn’t mean that one should do it
- “That the good must quit life when their misfortunes are too great, but the bad also when
their good fortune is too great.” (Stobaeus)
- He does not condemn suicide, nor does he endorse it
- He argues that there is no way to guarantee that suicide will be a solution to your
Even if there was an argument against suicide, what good would it be?
- Was an existentialist
- Not an atheist – an agnostic
- The rebel: murder is never justified, but in some cases it is necessary, this is just an
unfortunate fact about the world
o If God did exist he would refuse to believe in him – there are no good arguments
for the existence of God
- There are certain things that are necessary occurrences in the world that we have a hard
time accepting because they cannot be rationally justified
The Myth of Sisyphus
- While some people might think they have good reason to commit suicide, it is never
- If one does not believe in God, suicide is not legitimate - It is legitimate and necessary to wonder if life has a meaning and therefore it is
legitimate to meet suicide face to face
- Even if there is no God, suicide is not legitimate
- Your life is meaningless/absurd, therefore you OUGHT to kill yourself
o Camus argues that the latter statement does not necessarily follow the
o He also argues that human life is inherently meaningless
An Absurd Reasoning
- The goal of this test is not to argue for the thesis that human existence is absurd. The
goal is to show whether someone who takes the absurdity or meaninglessness of human
existence as a starting point must end up endorsing suicide
- “The subject of this essay is precisely this relationship between the absurd and suicide,
the exact degree to which suicide is a solution to the absurd.” (p.6)
- Just because there is no inherent meaning in life doesn’t mean you should kill yourself
- According to Camus, people have argued that