David Hume's Argument For The Moral Permissibility Of Suicide

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Introduction

When considering the various applications of David Hume’s moral philosophy, his discussion on the morality of suicide has a great effect on the discussion of ethics and morality more than two-hundred and fifty years later. Our modern Western society is reevaluating its moral code from the ground up year by year in various social issues, which means that it is also becoming unclear what actions are morally permissible. Thus, a critical analysis of Hume’s argument for the moral permissibility of suicide is rather timely. In his essay on suicide, Hume refutes a three-part claim of Thomas Aquinas, a Catholic philosopher and theologian. This essay shows that Hume believes that suicide can be defined as the killing of self that is intended to remove misery and which may or may not be morally justified. On the other hand, it also shows that Aquinas defines suicide as the intentional killing of self that is “contrary to self love, self perpetuation[, and] natural law” and which is morally impermissible. Simply all that Hume attempts to accomplish in his essay “Of Suicide” is to show that Aquinas is wrong and that suicide may be morally permissible in certain circumstances. Various philosophers over the past two
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He opines this position by arguing specifically against Aquinas, as mentioned. However, this paper will not focus on arguing that Hume is specifically refuting Aquinas; other critics have argued this idea thoroughly, so I will approach Hume’s opponent as evidently being Aquinas. Hume’s refutation of Aquinas is split into three parts; two of which are solely philosophical, and one that is theological: if suicide is morally impermissible, then it must be a violation of our duty to God, to society, or to ourselves. Hume thinks that suicide does not violate any of these duties, so he concludes that it is morally

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