The Nature of Suicide

by Frey

Format: Other book format 350 pages

Publication abandoned, other editions may be available


Of the many substantive issues that figure prominently among the moral and social concerns of the day, suicide is perhaps the least explored by philosophers. There is comparatively little by way of detailed analysis of the concept or consideration of the many conceptual issues surrounding it. Though the rationality and morality of suicide are increasingly discussed on all sides, there is comparatively little detailed assessment of arguments or extended defence of an argued position on each count. Much of the philosophical literature on suicide, particularly what few books there are, tends towards a survey of positions and writings rather than towards the presentation of an argumentative whole, with a particular account of suicide developed and then examined to see whether acts of suicide can on that account be rational and moral. This book, building upon the author's earlier articles on suicide, including that on the death of Socrates, explores just these matters. In language accessible to laymen, the book analyses the concept of suicide and sets out the conditions that must be satisfied in order for a killing to amount to a suicide. The demand that suicide be an intentional act raises all manner of issues to do with intention, including those associated with the act/omission distinction and the doctrine of double effect, and these are considered at length and in connection with cases such as abortion, euthanasia, self-defence, and physician-assisted suicide. Then, in part II, the question of whether suicide can ever be a rational act is explored. In this the criteria of rationality in the choice of death in various cases are examined, and conditions that must be met in order for a suicide to be a rational suicide are set out. It is argued that some acts of choosing death can meet these conditions. In Part III, the morality of suicide is taken up. Against arguments that suggest that suicide is immoral and never permissible, the author defends the morality of killing oneself in certain cases. But this case for suicide carries with it certain qualifications and restrictions, which are examined in Part IV and in the context of further discussion of abortion, euthuanasia, self defence, and physician-assisted suicide.

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Wiley-Blackwell (an imprint of John Wiley & Sons Ltd)


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