CHAPTER 5 - THE ETHICAL DEBATE page 81 be morally permissible if the good it afforded the individual outweighed the loss to society.
Moreover, suicide would be laudatory if the person's death would benefit the group and the individual.
As with suicide, the individual's subjective feelings about the merits of continued life had no bearing on the appropriatness of continued medical treatment. (9) Some Roman Stoics such as Seneca, however, argued that the individual should have broad discretion to end his or her own life.
Interestingly, Plato did not apply this analysis to the severly ill and disabled elderly, who, he argued, should be permitted to live regardless of their ability to contribute to the community. He criticized those who "maintain that one should not offer violence to one's own life, and hold it accursed for a man to be the means of his own destruction; we should wait, say they, for the end decreed by nature.
page 78 WHEN DEATH IS SOUGHT debate, ranging from Plato and Aristotle in ancient Greece to Augustine and Thomas Aquinas in the Middle Ages, and Locke, Hume, and Kant in more modern times.(2) Some views and practices surrounding suicide were rooted in particular cultures and beliefs that have little relevance for contemporary society.
For example, in the warrior society of the Vikings, only those who died violently could enter paradise, or Valhalla.
Finally, some advocate that assisted suicide, or both assisted suicide and euthanasia, should be recognized as legally and morally acceptable options in the care of dying or severely ill patients.(1) An Historical Perspective For thousands of years, philosophers and religious thinkers have addressed the ethics of suicide.
These debates have rested on broad principles about duties to self and to society as well as fundamental questions of the value of human life.
Many great thinkers of Western intellectual history have contributed to this -------------------------------------------------------------------- (1) Through most of this chapter, arguments are schematically presented as those of "proponents" of legalizing assistcd suicide and euthanasia and "opponents" of legalizing these practices.
Each category groups together diverse views in order to provide an overview of a debate marked by complex and nuanced positions.