The Instigator
Pro (for)
5 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
5 Points

Humans Have an Inalienable Right to Death

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Post Voting Period
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/21/2011 Category: Society
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,146 times Debate No: 17597
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (9)
Votes (2)




R1 is for acceptance and, if necessary, for demanding clarification. I will present my argument in R2. It is my responsibility to prove beyond reasonable doubt that humans have an intrinsic right to death and that no man or woman should interfere with an individual who has wittingly arrived at the conclusion that they wish to die.

You may desire to bring mental illness into the discussion but if you do, please understand that there's only so much we can cover in our limited space.


I accept your debate!
Debate Round No. 1


I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on the matter.

It is first and foremost necessary to identify what an inalienable right is. I will then argue that death belongs as an inalienable human right. If my opponent has qualms with my semantic version of an inalienable right then I'd suggest he explain his objections. The audience would then have to judge upon whose version is more appropriate.

An inalienable human right describes the capabilities of an individual to perform a specific set of actions without having to receive the sanction of others. In our case, this translates into the idea that an individual may act to end his life if that is indeed what he desires. The natural continuation of this means that he/she cannot face repercussions [for a failted attempt] nor can he be restricted by others. I would like to specify that this does not permit the individual to cause harm to others through his actions, because he is only entitled to ultimate ends that do not interfere with the rights of others.

An individual ultimately decides upon what is good for himself. By measuring the worth and consequences of different objectives, the individual makes his own decisions about what he's going to do. No other man has control over the individual's decisions, even though they might try to influence them. The individual is thus responsible for his own outcome. From all the outcomes that he may available before him, he'll choose the one that's closet to his personal motivations. My argument therefore depends on the legitimacy of an individual's motivations, and whether or not other individuals can interfere with those motivations.

Living amongst others forces us to make certain compromises. For example, though I may want to walk on your property, it has been determined to your right to forbid me from doing so. Even if I had the most noble of motivations I would have no choice in the matter. But the right to death cannot make room for compromise, for no other individual can have presidence over an individual's decisions to do as he wishes with his own life. A human being cannot choose death without appropriate motivations, and to deny a person the choice of death is to accuse him of improper motivations. But who's to say that death is such an immoral choice? Why do your beliefs about proper motivation dictate what he can or cannot do with his own life? He isn't interfering with anyone else's rights to act as they please, and is only doing what he deems as being the right course of action.

Abridged version of my argument:
P1. A person's motivations towards his own life are what result in his actions.
P2. An individual's motivations towards wanting to cease living is what leads him towards committing suicide.
P3. An individual's motivations are sacrosanct, since they are their own sanction for the ultimate end that they are pursuing.
C. Therefore, no other individual(s) can interfere with another person's decision to commit suicide, since doing so would be asserting their authority over that person's right to determine what is best for them.

PS: P2 opens the door for my opponent to discuss God. This would be extremely tangential and counter-intuitive to the direction of our debate. The question at hand is whether society can obstruct an individual to commit suicide, not whether God will punish him.

PPS: Clarification: A person cannot hurt another individual because it interferes with their motivations.



Thank you, I am excited for this debate.

I will first start off by challenging your definition of an inalienable right. Thomas Hobbes defined an inalienable right as the ability "to use his own power, as he will himself, for the preservation of his own Nature; that is to say, of his own Life." So while Hobbes acknowledges that no outside force should infringe upon an inalienable right, he also states that the purpose of them are to further our own survival in nature. Prefer this definition over my opponents simply because it has merits behind it, while his own has none.

Now on to his argument. He states that individuals decide what is good for themselves, however with this point, he isolates the human being and eliminates a society. Yes individuals have a certain freedom to choose, however there are instances where that no longer is true. Immanuel Kant's Categorical Imperative explains that we cannot base a moral law on interests, purposes or individual ends, because all of these are only relevant to the certain individual. In order for us to see if we actually have the universal right to end our own lives, we first must find something to base the argument upon that is also universal to all human beings. Kant argues that this universal rule is humanity. Kant believed that human life should be treated as an end, not as a means to something else. By using suicide as a means to escape pain and suffering, we are disrespecting humanity on a whole. We have certain rights to enhance humanity, but in the instance that it eliminates humanity, there is not right.

My opponent also gives the analogy of walking on my property, and he says that we as humans have no right to interfere with one anothers rights, however while this point may uphold in many situations where the individual decides to take his own life, it ignores other situations. If I have a family that I am responsible for, and I decide that I have lived long enough so I commit suicide, I have abandoned my responsibilities as the caretaker of my family and severely damage the ability of my loved ones to continue their normal lives. This same situation can be true of many different situations including the owner of a severely indebted business, who ends his life because of his stress. He then passes on his debt to the next person in line for ownership and has just interfered in another individuals financial freedom, AKA harming his motivations, which my opponent says we cannot do.

For a summery, my opponent bases his arguments off of intentions and motivations, which I have proven are not universal, so we cannot apply them in this resolution. Also look to his lack of merits in his arguments as opposed to my philosophical framework. Thanks.
Debate Round No. 2


My opponent has challenged my definition of a human right. He prefers Hobbes’ version of a right, which outlines the idea that a human right is only that which preserves our life. But this opens up a slippery slope of removing a person’s capabilities to do as he/she pleases. For example, driving kills far more people than suicide does. According to you, this means that humans don’t have a right to drive. This is the natural consequence of defining a human right in accordance to survival. A far more logical option would be to base our rights on the motivations of the act--you'd be hard pressed to call the motivations for driving immoral. I would thus ask that my audience rule out my opponent’s dismissal of my arguing from motivations, since we are driven entirely by our motivations.

My opponent seems to enjoy using the words of others to construct his argument. He introduces Kant’s Categorical Imperative in order to balance an individual’s responsibilities in accordance to the demands of society. But my opponent uses an inappropriate interpretation of the Categorical Imperative and seems to assume that I will accept it. It is well known that Kant believed that it was our actions that were important, that each act we commit should be in accordance to the promotion of the sanctity of the individual (note; NOT the society), eg: that the individual should never be considered solely as a means. I have no objections as of yet, but then my opponent says that suicide disrespects humanity on a whole. This implies that the individual has obligations to the rest of humanity, something that I believe to be deplorable and an unjust representation of the individual’s responsibilities. Let me clear: The individual’s responsibilities are only that which he believes to be important. It is no one’s authority but the individual’s to dictate that which is important. Society’s only role is to protect the individual from those individuals who would seek him harm. Man owes man nothing.

My opponent then goes on to use the classic example of one`s responsibilities to one`s family. He is arguing that because an individual has responsibilities to his family, he cannot commit suicide. But who has taken upon those responsibilities? Who has chosen to uphold those duties to the family? The individual. It is always the individual who decides upon his own responsibilities, and we must always respect that decision, for if we take that away then we are stripping away the very essence of all that is important to our humanity.

My opponent has framed the individual as a servant of others. He has outlined the individual’s responsibilities to be the realm of society’s choosing and that the individual cannot choose for himself because there are others he may harm by negligence. But let’s consider what ‘harm by negligence’ means. It means that we have taken away our aid from others, that we have removed what was ours to give. Should we be punished for taking away what is rightfully ours?


First to adress the issue of the definition of a human right. He says that by my definition, we should not be able to drive, however this is not true. The purpose of suicide is to die, the purpose of driving is to accomplish your daily tasks. So while there is a risk of dying when you drive, you are not disrespecting humanity, you simply may be exposed to an accident. Once again we cannot prefer the motivations argument for my same argument as before, which my opponent does not address. Motivations are specific to the individual, whereas humanity is consistant. We cant say that everyone has the right to death when we use a different criterion for that right for every individual person.

Next, my opponent so graciously points out that i use more than my own opinion in order to construct my arguments. The fact that i actually have merits behind what i say makes my arguments more acceptable, rather that the sole opinion of a random username on He then states that i use an inappropriate definition of the categorical imperative. While kant did believe in our own actions and the sanctity of the individual, he also respected humanity and believed that it is wrong to disrespect it by taking your own life. Kant states this, but for more information you can refer to Micheal Sandel's book JUSTICE. He then mentions that the individual has no responsibilities to the rest of humanity, but then states that society has a role to protect the individual. If man has no obligation to fellow man, then you cannot mention society because in a world where man has no part in governing another, there is no society. We are degraded to a state of nature and anarchy.

My opponent then attacks my "classic" example of the family responsibility. However he ignores the rest of the example. He says that it is the individuals decision to enter into the responsibility of a family and that he can leave those whenever he choses, however he fails to address the harms occurring to those left abandoned. While we are debating whether or not it is a right to commit suicide, there are inalienable rights that have already been stated by our founding fathers. Among those are liberty and the pursuit of happiness. If i am a wife that has chosen to pursue happiness with a family, and i am abandoned, the decisions of another are in fact affecting me. Dont let my opponent tell you that each individual man has no responsibility to anybody else, for with that he eliminates government as well as the family. He then states that this is stripping what is most important to humanity, which is false. Life is required to have humanity. If we have no life then humanity does not exist.

Use Kants Categorical imperative to decide this debate. My opponent has stated an opinion and chosen to ignore my interpretation of the imperative, which i share with harvard professor micheal sandel. The choice comes down to whether or not man has any outside obligations, or if we are free to do as we chose, a question which history has answered many times with the institutions of families and governments. The choice is simple, take history, Sandel, and Kant over the opinion of my opponent.
Debate Round No. 3


On the subject of my opponent’s qualms with the definition of a human right: My driving example merely represents the fallacy of using your own words:

“…the purpose of them are to further our own survival in nature…”

This would mean that no one has a right to drink alcohol, drive, or even walk outside because all of these are dangerous and bring potential harm towards our survival. I was merely pointing out that it is more logical to use motivations as a pillar for our rights.

My opponent claims that I have neglected to address an argument of his, the one where he/she states that we can’t judge the individual’s rights based on his/her motivations because they are not the same as humanity’s motivations. What exactly is humanity? My opponent fails to provide any substance behind his/her axioms, almost as if he were reciting something that he read elsewhere. Want some evidence? She/he goes onto to claim that he/she has merit behind what he/she says because it has been said before. That’s like saying ‘because my mother told me so’. My opponent cannot argue from his/her own power of reasoning and is thus relying on the opinion of others as “merit”. For example, he/she introduces someone else’s book and claim that society cannot exist unless we assign obligations to one another. I believe in only one obligation—to never interfere with one person’s motivations/freedom to act upon those motivations. This does not mean you can physically injure someone simply because you want to do it, since you would be interfering with their personal motivations.

I never, not even for an instant or a jiffy, ignored the rest of his example. That suicide brings harm to those around the individual is news to no one. Let us entertain the rest of my opponent’s argument. He/she claims that a motivation of a person is the pursuit of happiness, which is indeed the founding basis for all our motivations. But there is a difference here, and a rather important one. The husband has not acted towards his wife’s motivations—they are simply collateral damage. It is absolutely true that responsibility only exists for what you believe to be worth accountability. If a man chooses to remove himself from the responsibilities of raising a family then he is free to do so. In no way, shape or form do I think he should, but nor do I believe that we should punish an individual for choosing death as his banner of freedom.

My opponent makes a grand leap from our responsibilities to our family to our responsibilities to our governments. Then he/she seemingly moves on from this claim without really adding anything else and claims that life is required to have humanity. Of course it is required. But would you call a dog a human? According to my opponent, all you need is life. However, the human condition is a far more complex and enlightening phenomena. We are not simply mortal; we are also gods in our way. We create our own world and we define what is most important to us, but only when we have the motivations to do so. My opponent seeks to kill the faculty of motivation while I argue that it be upheld as the standard for humanity.

For some reason that I’ve yet to determine, my opponent also made mention of the founding fathers. I don’t see any merit in doing so. Again, it’s like saying that ‘because so-and-so said this, it’s true’. It’s a horrendous means of arguing and I would hope that my audience logically agrees.



First, id like to thank my opponent for an awesome debate! Its been awesome.

Now, to address the definition of human right, he gives a few more examples of things that can cause potential harm, however he ignores my refutation to the exact same argument in the previous round. While there are certain things that have potential harms to an individual, there are also things that are guaranteed to cause harm, in this case, suicide. When I commit suicide, my intentions aren't the same as if i were driving to work or talking a walk outside. I am harming myself and removing myself from my responsibilities in the society and to my family. My opponent then addresses his dropped argument that we cant use motivations as a universal tool in this round, because motivations vary from individual to individual. He then says that i never define what humanity is. However, look to my first posted argument, where i speak about Kant. I clearly outline what the Categorical Imperative is and what humanity is, human life. He then, quite arrogantly i might add, chooses to attack my use of outside merits in the debate. While my opponent has taken the stance, as he states later, that he is god and no one else is more intelligent than him, i choose to acknowledge that there are many people out there that are more intelligent than me. The fact that i use my own opinion as well as the opinions of the more educated, i add backing to my arguments that my opponent does not have.

He then moves on to my example and how i say that he ignores a portion of it. He then states, "That suicide brings harm to those around the individual is news to no one." We can vote off of this one sentence in the round alone. He says that the right to commit suicide is inalienable. He then states that you cannot interfere with an individuals motivations and rights. Then he says the before quoted statement, admitting that there are harms outside of the individual when one commits suicide. He paints the picture that individuals are islands in the world, not acting upon each other and having no responsibilities, then switches and admits that all of his notions of society not harming another are completely false.

He then states in the same argument, that the husband is not acting towards his wife's motivations, but that they are collateral damage! Just because he didnt mean for his actions to harm another, does not make it right. If i go get completely wasted at the club tonight and attempt to drive home and kill someone in the process, is that ok? I didn't act against an individual, they were simply Collateral Damage! My opponent choses to deteriorate everyone else in this world to right-less beasts in order to justify the suicide of one man. Call the infraction upon another person's rights whatever you choose, but in the end, that is exactly what it is.

He then addresses the point where i say life is the most important thing because it is required. He says that of course it is, but that human life is more complex. I acknowledge this, however don't let that comment stray you from the argument made. He states in an earlier round that i am stripping a mans ability to choose, which is most important to humanity. I say false, that life is most important. And what is my opponent taking away? Life. This is another huge point to vote on. He concedes that life is most important in his last argument, but he also seeks to take it away. Huge contradiction on my opponents part. He then states that i am seeking to kill the "faculty of motivation" and that it needs to be the standard for humanity. However, once again look to the fact that motivations are different in every individual. How can we use motivations as a universal standard if no individual has the exact same motivations? Because of this, his arguments will only apply to a single individual, not the rest of the society. Look to Kants Categorical Imperative that i use in my case. It applies to ALL individuals, not restricting it to the single person who may have motivations to fit my opponents arguments.

Finally, he states that he "doesn't see any merit" in bringing up the founding fathers, once again ignoring an important point. I bring up the founding fathers because they are the ones who established our first inalienable rights, and i look to them in a debate about another inalienable right. It seems to me that using those who first came up with our rights may be pretty useful when determining this debate, however my opponent, once again using his "all knowing, godlike opinion" doesn't think that the intelligent minds of Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and Benjamin Franklin have any merit in the debate.

Id like to thank all that have read the debate, and urge a con decision. Vote off of my use of more intelligent opinions than my own when determining this round. While i do use my own reasoning, i bring outside intelligence into the debate, which my opponent never attempts to do. Also look to the many dropped arguments and contradictions that my opponent makes. And a message to my opponent, you didn't need to get so arrogant with your attacks. yes we have different styles of debating, but that does not merit personal attacks. Thank you.

Debate Round No. 4
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by KristophKP 7 years ago

Provide one example of my being rude. This is the third time that I've asked, and if you continue your accusations of my rudeness without being able to provide one example I'll rightfully assume that your accusation has no merits.


Whose property is your life? Yours. Why should I interfere with your desire to end your life if it is the rational conclusion that you have arrived at? Should society's role be relegated to that of a babysitter's? Society owes nothing to man. A government, on the other hand, should protect our rights, including our decision to end it.
Posted by spenserririe 7 years ago
Weirdman, how is my opponents own personal definition of a inalienable right more sound than the definition given by Thomas Hobbes?
Posted by 000ike 7 years ago
"There is a right to die of natural causes? This isn't is sensible. That's like saying you have the right to be killed by a meteorite."

...and more sensible would be a right to die, just because one feels like dying? You contradict yourself. You mentioned society having the responsibility of looking after its members, but then say that each member owes society nothing, and furthermore each member can kill themselves, and society must let them. The latter is not in accordance with the responsibility you previously asserted on society, and the former is not in accordance with the principle of give and take. If anything,THAT isn't sensible.
Posted by spenserririe 7 years ago
000ike already said that you did have rude attacks, and i dont deny being rude in return. ON the matter of society owing something to the individual, we enter into a social contract with the formation of a society. Prior to a society, there may be a more solid argument that man owes man nothing, but because we have formed them, there are certain obligations. To name one that you mention in your own case, society has an obligation to protect you from those who may choose to harm you.
Posted by KristophKP 7 years ago

Provide ONE example.

From 000ike: "Onto the matter of conduct. I found PRO's attacks to be rude, but CON's reaction was equally rude, maybe even ruder. You don't call your contender "arrogant" in a proper debate. Hence, the two are tied in that field."

Furthermore, I recommend that you read my words again, but this time with a different tone. Apply Barney or Pikachu (you'll have to be creative with that one). Communication depends more on tone and body language than words, and I believe that you've assigned an arrogant tone to my argument simply because I have an inquisitive rebuttal model.
Posted by KristophKP 7 years ago
Thank you for the extension of thoughts 000ike. I believe I have a worthy contention for you to consider.

W said anything about reaping the benefits of society? You could flip my argument on its head and say that society owes the individual nothing and it's be absolutely correct. We owe each other nothing. My opponent was right on the account of responsibilities to one's family (children especially) but otherwise I owe you nothing.

There is a right to die of natural causes? This isn't is sensible. That's like saying you have the right to be killed by a meteorite.

One last thing: What do people do when there aren't enough resources? They fight over it, because their moral standard is their own survival. Because it is theirs and theirs only (I could not, for example, lay claim to your life) it is theirs to do with as they please. Who is anyone to throw rules at someone to prevent them from doing as they please?
Posted by 000ike 7 years ago
To extend my reason for voting (past the character limit), PRO essentially wants to have his cake and eat it too. You cannot reap the benefits of being a member of human society but then turn around and say you owe society nothing. When one dies, like CON stated, he leaves behind maybe a family or debt etc. and that becomes the burden of someone else. There IS a right to die of natural causes, and lay your heart to rest. But there is no right to suicide. That is an abuse of the word "right". PRO did not form a powerful enough argument, and he often asserted claims, such as his definition of "inalienable right" that were unsound and unconvincing.

Onto the matter of conduct. I found PRO's attacks to be rude, but CON's reaction was equally rude, maybe even ruder. You don't call your contender "arrogant" in a proper debate. Hence, the two are tied in that field.
Posted by spenserririe 7 years ago
Anyone reading your extremely arrogant arguments can see that you were a bit over the top sir.
Posted by KristophKP 7 years ago
Provide one example of my "personal attacks". If you cannot, then you will have to admit that you are using a clandestine tactic of debasing my character, which is in itself a personal attack.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by wierdman 7 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I voted for pro for the main reason that he provided a sound definition of inalienable rights. Con argued that committing suicide affects other individuals as it is a crime to humanity; which in my case simply throws his whole case away.
Vote Placed by 000ike 7 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro tried to assert that people do not have obligations to society, and it was at that point that Con's argument became more sound. Pro's perception of "man owes man nothing" defies all social order and implies that life runs on anarchy and independence when it does not. Humans are interdependent of one another. This fundamental interdependence comes at a sacrifice, that no human being has 100 individual decision over his own welfare, unless he removes himself from society.