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ToK Presentation: Assisted Suicide

To what extent does societies ideals about life influence our free will over it?
by

Elaine Davidson

on 20 November 2012

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Transcript of ToK Presentation: Assisted Suicide

By Hannah Randle Assisted Suicide Everyone has the fundamental right to live. To take away someone’s right to live is considered a terrible sin and crime in many countries. Do you have a right to die? To what extend does societies ideals and beliefs about death affect our free will over it? Knowledge Issue Many religious groups believe strongly that the taking of a life is wrong, be it murder, or suicide. So because of this, a very common debate when suicide, assisted, or not, comes up is that that control over a life is playing God. But do we not play God everyday? Killing someone is playing God! When looking into ethics we gain a lot of knowledge from our emotional responses, if I were to ask you if it was OK to assist an old mans suicide who knew that within the next 4 years he would die, had a degenerative disease, could barely speak, couldn’t move or do anything by himself, you would probably say that it would be OK to end his suffering. Yet if it were an infant, such as in Switzerland, who has a mental disability, you might think of all the functioning members of society we have today who have mental illnesses, and immediately react that no, that is unethical to kill the baby.
Ethics When I was 13 I had just moved 7,000km across a country, I was bullied constantly at school, and I was dealing with a lot of childhood abuse. Needless to say, I was not in a very good place, and I was extremely emotional. And I attempted suicide. Personal Connection My aunty Char was extremely sick a year ago, she suffered a severe heart attack and needed a quadruple by-pass. She was in a coma for a few weeks, couldn’t breath on her own, couldn’t eat on her own, couldn’t do anything, it was very unlikely that she would survive. What do we justify as a life? Dignitas In Switzerland the company Dignitas offers assisted suicide to people of Switzerland as well as foreign visitors. The Swiss Supreme Court recently issued a decision stating that chronically depressed and mentally ill people have a right to assisted suicide. Natural Sciences Due to the ubiquity of fear of death among humans, and our knowledge of evolutionary biology and behavior of near-relatives, we can intuit that fear of death is on some level instinctual, and as such, that knowledge itself could be understood in the same way for humans and many other animals- as an instinctual fear.
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