The Right to Death

Avatar Author: DoItForScience I write some things, I bullshit others. My age is a secret. Second class gramma ninja extraordinaire, international spy for the League of Awesomeness. Shhhhhh.... Thanks to Phil Plait of Bad Astronomy for leading me to... Read Bio

I admit it. I think our forefathers got it wrong when they wrote the Declaration of Independence. There is no natural right to life. What is a natural right? A right that cannot be taken away from you, no matter what. And clearly, life can be taken away. But Death is inescapable. Therefore, everybody has a natural right to death.

I don’t feel that this idea is highly incompatible with our moral code. What does respect for a Right to Death mean? In my mind, it means that everybody is entitled to chose their own death (I believe in non-determinism, that the Universe is too big for anybody to be able to make highly specific predictions about the future of a single person for any long period of time, and therefore our futures cannot be predetermined in any practical way, a.k.a Free Will), and therefore suicide is legal, and homicide is illegal. Bodily harm is illegal because it could impact a person’s ability to pursue their chosen death. A right to Life, built upon a right to Death.

What are your opinions?

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Comments (12 so far!)

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  1. Avatar DoItForScience

    Also, feel free to write about the (in the Declaration) natural rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

  2. Avatar Mighty-Joe Young (A.K.A Strong Coffee)(LoA)

    dang i dont know if this falls under the category of fiction

  3. Avatar DoItForScience

    Well, currently in the U.S. the right to death is a legal fiction, so… maybe?

  4. Avatar Lancet

    Agreed, but in the next century there might be a geniune right to life too :) http://www.nickbostrom.com/fable/dragon.html

    Liberty: well, our brain and whole being is constrained by the laws of physics, and there is no way to be free of that constraint, therefore freedon can’t exist – however, certain degrees of it can, i.e. we shouldn’t pose restrictions on each other on top of that because we’re already slaves to a certain degree, so let’s not worsen the situation.

    BTW, I follow the principle of consent, aka “do whatever you want as long as you don’t harm anybody without his/her explicit request to do so”. (This is because preferences differ; I, for example, enjoy being cut. Within safe limits of course.)

    What about assisted suicide though? You boundaries seem a tad too clear-cut (i.e. black&white).

  5. Avatar DoItForScience

    That’s because it’s black-and-white to me, I support assisted suicide. Obviously though, there needs to be the proper legal paperwork to prove that it is assisted suicide, the kind that should definitely be notarized and probably should have to be notarized by several people, not just one.

    Liberty is a very interesting one, and honestly the one that gives my attempt to build a philosophy the most difficulty. I read once that it had originally meant literal physical liberty, the ability to move around unrestricted. Clearly, this is no longer an unrestricted right. More to the point, we have expanded the definition of liberty in light of the Bill of Rights.

    Oh, and the cutting thing… freaky, just freaky. Not my thing. I like my blood to do its job, where it belongs. I’m gonna keep my kinks to myself. You know, for the kids.

  6. Avatar DoItForScience

    Ok, so just read that fable you linked, Lancet. Good read. But, the implications of immortality are heavy indeed. Personally, I don’t fully believe that immortality (even if everybody received the gift) would be a good thing. That’s another ficly though. Plenty of cautionary tales about immortality out there.

  7. Avatar Lancet

    Well, death would be optional, not totally erased. Immortality cannot be forced upon anyone.

  8. Ahfl_icon THX 0477

    The document to which you refer was not a philosophical treatise but a pragmatic statement of course. If you define liberty as something that cannot be taken away, then it is by default not something you need to fight for.

    The rights and liberties they discussed were not absolutes but worthy goals They were saying these things should exist and where they do not, should be fought for, which they did. As far as the declaration goes, you’re over-thinking it, taking something intended for the real world and trying to judge it in terms of a high-minded, imaginary realm of absolutes.

    Point of contention, your own code that actions should be allowed in as much as they do not impact others contradicts your assertion that suicide should be patently allowed. Suicide is one of the most destructive acts an individual can perpetrate against all who know and love them. It is not victimless except in the deluded mind of the one doing it.

    Thanks for the mental exercise of a bit of debate!

  9. Avatar DoItForScience

    It was Lancet that said “BTW, I follow the principle of consent, aka “do whatever you want as long as you don’t harm anybody without his/her explicit request to do so”. (This is because preferences differ…)” however Lancet didn’t state that he supported suicide. I expect it’s the opposite for Lancet. I however hold no illusions that suicide doesn’t impact the living. Even so, I support it based upon what I perceive to be a right to death.

    However what you said about the Declaration being a practical document and not a philosophical treatise seems pretty spot on. Does that mean that we should not consider it philosophically though? It seems to me that they put a lot of philosophical thought into the document. Certainly though, I should consider it with a more practical bent.

  10. Avatar Mighty-Joe Young (A.K.A Strong Coffee)(LoA)

    and lets not forget in the preamble it is the governments _responsibility to provide for the generl welfare of its citizens. People killing themselves is poor general welfare.

  11. Avatar Lancet

    “I expect it’s the opposite for Lancet.”
    I think suicide is the only morally right thing to do (google TH Huxley and combating the “comsic process” by which he meant our instincts/evolution), but that does not mean I support it. It’s a decision that’s up to everyone personally, not in any way collectively.

  12. Avatar DoItForScience

    Oh, that threw me for a loop. I haven’t read any TH Huxley. That’s difficult, believing that something is the only morally right thing to do but not being able to support it.

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