Hume's Morality Of Suicide

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Hume on the Morality of Suicide: One’s Duty to Self and Society Secondly, Hume argues that suicide does not violate one’s duty to society because the opposite claim of Aquinas is “ill-supported by a proper account of moral and social obligation” and that, in particular cases when someone is a burden to society, his or her “resignation of life must not only be innocent but laudable.” There is no social obligation to continue to live in misery if a person’s “social contribution is small in proportion to the largeness of his misery”; thus, if he or she is not “useful to the public” or wants to protect the public, it is laudable and innocent that he or she commits suicide (cf. Hume, “Of Suicide” p. 382). When a person’s life ends, they do “no…show more content…
McLean 106-7). Thirdly (and similarly), Hume argues that suicide does not violate one’s duty to oneself. He claims “that we have no obligation to ourselves that requires us to live in misery when” suicide remains a possible “remedy.” These specific situations of ‘misery’ are when “age, sickness, or misfortune” “render life a burden” in such a way where living seems worse “than annihilation.” Hume lacks specificity when describing these conditions since he does not mention the degrees and/or limitations of age, sickness, or misfortune. Without these limitations, the situations cannot be properly discerned and judged accordingly, and judging situations would become subject to circumstances and one’s sentiments rather than considering an…show more content…
Beauchamp 75). One such argument that suicide is a crime against society is refuted by Sidney Hook, an American philosopher who agrees with Hume with regards to the moral permissibility of suicide. Hook argues that “far from being a crime against society, suicide may actually further the welfare of society. The logic of utilitarian ethics leads inevitably to this position, to the surprise of a number of its professed adherents.” I agree that this logic is utilitarian, however, I do not think that the death of one person (whom I’ll term ‘criminal’ for the sake of clarity) who already committed a heinous crime (in most, if not all circumstances) will not further the welfare of society as a whole. Firstly, that criminal’s death will inevitably make at least one person sorrowful, be it a family member, friend, or someone who believes that the criminal’s acts are justifiable or morally permissible. A society is also a community of people, which includes these people who are in some way in a relationship with the criminal, so it cannot be said that the society’s welfare will be furthered or benefited because there will be people within the society whose welfare will not be furthered. One could reply that the welfare of society is determined

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