Benatar defending the right to die.

I don’t agree with everything David Benatar writes, but I do think he’s right about antinatalism and issues related to it, such as the right to die. In this article, he defends the right to die and euthanasia against common objections.

With that scenario in mind, we can see the hidden assumption in the slippery slope argument against legalizing euthanasia: It is the assumption that the instances of euthanasia that the Netherlands now permits are morally wrong. But the problem is that very many defenders of a legal right to die would deny that those instances of euthanasia are wrong. Some of us think that the suffering that a person endures need not be the product of a terminal disease in order for it to be intolerable. We also recognize that some mental suffering is intractable and as unbearable as physical suffering. And we recognize that it is not only competent patients, but also incompetent ones who can suffer from conditions that make their lives not worth living. Accordingly, we would like to see euthanasia and assisted suicide permitted in such a wider range of cases. If, however, we cannot effect that legal change in one step, we recommend, in the first instance, a more limited liberalization of the law. Once that change has been made, people might realize that the next step and then the next are also acceptable, even if they cannot see it now.

And thanks to Michael in the comments for posting this quote from another article:

The decision about whether to continue living in such conditions is among the most important that can be made. Just as people value having control over where to live, which occupation to pursue, whom to marry, and whether to have children, so people value having control over whether to continue living when quality of life deteriorates. That is why the right to life and the right to die are not two rights, but two aspects or descriptions of the same right. The right to life is the right to decide whether one will OR WILL NOT continue living. The right to die is the right to decide whether one will die (when one could continue living). If the right to life were only a right to decide to continue living and did not also include a right to decide not to continue living, then it would be a DUTY to live rather than a RIGHT to life. The idea that there is a duty to continue living, regardless of how bad life has become, is an implausible one indeed.

4 thoughts on “Benatar defending the right to die.

  1. Michael July 25, 2015 at 04:58 Reply

    I like this short excerpt from his earlier article

    Should there be a legal right to die? D. Benatar

    The decision about whether to continue living in such conditions is among the most important that can be made. Just as people value having control over where to live, which occupation to pursue, whom to marry, and whether to have children, so people value having control over whether to continue living when quality of life deteriorates. That is why the right to life and the right to die are not two rights, but two aspects or descriptions of the same right. The right to life is the right to decide whether one will OR WILL NOT continue living. The right to die is the right to decide whether one will die (when one could continue living). If the right to life were only a right to decide to continue living and did not also include a right to decide not to continue living, then it would be a DUTY to live rather than a RIGHT to life. The idea that there is a duty to continue living, regardless of how bad life has become, is an implausible one indeed.

    The right to die requires clarification. It need not be a right to assistance in ending one’s life. Instead, it need only amount to a right not to be prevented from gaining assistance in ending one’s life. This distinction is crucial. If the right to die were a right to positive assistance, then others would do wrong if they failed to help. What is worrying about such a rights claim is that it could impose on those who have moral qualms concerning euthanasia or assisted suicide a duty nonetheless to help others die. That claim is more controversial. Thus, the right to die need be interpreted only as a right not to be prevented from being assisted by those who are willing to help. In other words, those who think assisted suicide and euthanasia are immoral should not be forced to (help) kill others. However, they should similarly not be allowed to prevent others fromH giving assistance to those who have reasonably determined that their lives are not worth continuing. Nobody should be forced to assist, nor forced not to assist.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2949364/?report=classic

    Benatar – A legal right to die is long overdue (Cape Times 2011)

    http://www.philosophy.uct.ac.za/sites/default/files/image_tool/images/160/Benatar%20-%20A%20legal%20right%20to%20die%20is%20long%20overdue%20(Cape%20Times%202011).pdf

  2. oopster74 July 26, 2015 at 17:31 Reply

    We’ve all seen cases in the news of someone in a wheelchair saying their quality of life is terrible, they have a terminal condition or some progressively worse condition that have gone through the court system fighting for the right to die. I can see multiple sides of the argument, and still can’t decide where I fully stand on the issue. The ones we’ve seen on the news, I think they’ve made their case, they’ve shown that they’re in some pain whether it be physical, mental or some other pain, and they were fighting a battle they were never going to win in court and as much as I don’t want anyone to die, they’ve made the decision that life is unbearable for them. If I wanted to end my life tomorrow, I have multiple options, I don’t need anyone else’s life, but the very people who have sound reasons to want to end their life generally can’t do it without help, and while I wouldn’t want to be the one helping do that, I wouldn’t stand in someone’s way to help them.

    I know of one particular person too who might consider ending his life, but I know him, and he wouldn’t be doing it for the right reasons (he thinks he’s a burden as it is now when he isn’t).

    Maybe similar rules that apply to abortions and before referral to certain things is an option, ie 2 or more psychiatrists evaluate the person to see their of sound enough mental state and this is really what they want, but that’s gatekeeping / jumping through fences to please “others”, and I’m not sure that would be the best option either, but something does need to change.

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