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Assisted Suicide And The Right To Choose

3059 words - 12 pages

 
     Abstract: Religious or moral beliefs may prevent some of us from seeking the assistance of others to hasten our own death. But should we hold others accountable because of the standards that we choose to live by? With adversaries of assisted-suicide opposing the legalization of such acts, we are forcing our beliefs onto others who prefer peace and comfort at their time of death. As Christians, non-Christians, philosophers, teachers and laypersons, we all share one very key affiliation other than life and death itself. We are born with the "freedom of will", either by the Grace of God, or some other greater force. As such, it appears logical that we have some preconceived right to choose whether or not we aggressively seek death.

 Throughout the centuries, there has been increasing debate regarding suicide and the acceptable reasons for committing such an act. Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and David Humes are just a sample of the many philosophers and theologians that have commented on this delicate subject - each with slightly differing views. For this essay, I will focus on assisted suicide as it relates to the development of acceptable standards that would be uncompromising to the beliefs and ideals of differing social groups. It is in this manner that I will attempt to outline some of the increasingly difficult dilemmas presented by this hotly debated subject.

Do terminally ill patients have the right to choose death with the assistance of others? Do religious and political leaders have the right to intervene with a patientís decision to die with the assistance of others? These two questions are some of the many about which this increasingly complex debate thrives. Society is often asked to answer each question objectively, and in some cases without personal opinion ñ leaving many of these questions unanswered. So that we may better understand the standard by which an individual is granted the right to choose whether he should or could be assisted in his suicide (shortening an otherwise dreadful or compromising death), we will examine some of the ideals set forth by the above mentioned "fathers of modern thought".

In Nichomachean Ethics, Aristotle concludes, "no one can suffer injustice voluntarily, because no one can wish to be harmed." Aristotle, who condemns the act of suicide, an ideal that is shared by his teacher Plato, attempts to support himself by stating that although suicide is not necessarily an injustice against oneself in the strict sense, it is an injustice to the "political community whose existence is essential to oneís own well-being."(M.M.Uhlmann, Last Rights?) It is this ideal of Aristotleís that helps to support the argument of the "slippery slope" effect. But with each opposing argument, there are other arguments that pose challenges to this ideal as proponents and opponents of assisted-suicide attempt to keep this dispute in its proper perspective.

By living in a society that is highly...

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