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Taking LifeThree Theories on the Ethics of Killing$
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Torbjorn Tannsjo

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190225575

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: June 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190225575.001.0001

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(p.126) Chapter 6 Suicide
Taking Life

Torbjörn Tännsjö

Oxford University Press

The focus of this chapter is the sensitive subject of suicide. This chapter brings to light the importance of cultural variations in forming opinions on suicide, reminding us to not rely on gut feelings and, instead, attempt to move beyond our own narrow cultural horizon. However, while the startling cultural differences on the view of suicide are rather clear, interpreting them is far from easy. As with other topics, our three theories are again brought forth and applied. According to deontology, suicide is wrong, period. According to the moral rights theory, suicide is right if it is voluntary. According to utilitarianism, both positive and negative external effects must be taken into account. It is then argued that utilitarianism can best explain our considered intuitions about suicide.

Keywords:   suicide, Ludwig Wittgenstein, the categorical imperative, suicide bomber, collective suicide

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