The Instigator
Cermank
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Romanii
Con (against)
Winning
11 Points

Suicide should be a crime

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Romanii
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/25/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,166 times Debate No: 55397
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (3)

 

Cermank

Pro

I thank Romanii for the agreeing to debate this resolution. I'm pretty sure this will be an interesting debate, especially because I don't really have any strong opinion on the topic- although I do believe this is one of the fundamental topics- views on which have an impact on individual opinions on a lot of topics involving the interactions of state and rights.

First round for acceptance, no new arguments in the last round.

Over to Con :-)
Romanii

Con

I accept this debate!
It is sure to be an interesting one :)
Good luck to my opponent!
Debate Round No. 1
Cermank

Pro

Legally, suicide was considered synonymous with felo de se, that is, where one who is of the age of discretion and is mentally competent, voluntarily kills himself in any way. I don't think anyone disagrees with the fact that suicide is an extremely sad situation, however disagreement arises when we try to come to an agreement over whether or not it should be 'illegal'. The question over whether or not the act should be ‘illegal’ depends on basically two factors-

  1. 1. Why does law exist? What is the basis of classifying a certain act as illegal?
  2. 2. Whether or not suicide falls into that category.

I’ll begin by outlining the basic objective of a law, and then go into whether or not suicide violates the objective.


A. Let’s look at some of the constitution preambles over the world.
USA

India

Argentina


The basic commonality between these constitutions is that they aim to general welfare of the people. This general welfare clause, a part of many constitutions, statutes and charters- aims to maximise the preserve the social structure of the state as a whole, be it through political/ economic/ cultural tools. To protect the society as a whole and to preserve the social fabric that ensures the strength of that structure. It might seem very anti- libertarian in the beginning, but we need to realize that a without a strong social structure, it is *impossible* to maintain individual liberty and freedom. Individual freedom banks upon the social contract that is in place. In order for us to maximize our utility/ happiness, we need non discriminatory laws, equality clause, freedom laws. There just cannot be a harmonious society without these basic ingredients. Thus the objective of a law is to preserve the social structure, and consequently provide the basic tools for maximizing individual utility- while at the same time preserving individual liberty and free will.


With this in mind, let us move on to point B.

B. Legalizing suicide implies violation of the aforementioned social structure.

This brings us to the next point- what does illegalizing something mean? Does it mean that a person would go to jail over it? Not necessarily. What it means is that the state is compelled to interfere in case the aforementioned act is carried out. The action taken by the state in response to someone committing suicide is open to questioning, is open to discussion. In this debate, we are concerned with whether or not the state *should* interfere in case someone exhibits suicidal tendencies.

Why the state should interfere is because (as would be explained forth) it attacks the very moral fabric of the society, causes suffering to people beyond the person committing suicide, and undermines the sanctity of life. State has a moral duty of interfering in case one of a subjects displyays such a destructive tendency. To support, to rehabilitate, *even if the person does not desire it*.

(a) Choice to live and morality: "My morality, the morality of reason, is contained in a single axiom: existence exists—and in a single choice: to live. The rest proceeds from these." – Ayn Rand

Man is, first and foremost, a living being. Maintenance of life is his ultimate goal. This is universal, all organisms initiate any action as a subversion to that goal. They kill, eat, breathe, in order to live. Humans are a little more complex because they have free will. BECAUSE we have free will, we need moral standards to guide our lives. These standards need not be the same- and they need not be objective- but the very reason for moral standards to exist is because we have free will. We act, not merely exist. Morality helps us identify the important needs of a human- love, friendship, money, happiness, whatever- and then guides us to the tools we need to achieve them, the moral virtues. BUT, and this an important but, if a person does not wish to live, this is all moot. As Rand put it, "Life or death is man's only fundamental alternative. To live is his basic act of choice. If he chooses to live, a rational ethics will tell him what principles of action are required to implement his choice. If he does not choose to live, nature will take its course. There’s no sense of morality then."

The objective of the law is to protect the state and the people from each other, and to help guide people to make the choices that are right for the society. Suicide is not right for the society. The act is a final clip from the thread holding the society together, morality. It undermines the sanctity of life, and by extension- the basis of every right, law and obligation enforced by the constitution.

(b) The question of rights: Suicide being ‘legalised’ is often viewed as a question of choice, rather than as an immorality- against oneself and others around you. Suicide is intentional killing of a person, and consequently causing suffering. The right to life, the principle that’s often raised to legitimize suicide, does not cover the right to death. Right to non discrimination does not preclude right to allow yourself to be actively discriminated against by the society- since the repercussions of the latter affect a lot more people than just that one person, and has a negative influence on the social fabric of the suicide. Similarly, the right to life does not preclude the right to death precisely because the repercussions of the right to death go against the very structure of the constitution. A person who shows willingness to die should be actively helped, regardless of whether or not he shows the willingness to go to a rehab/ rehabilitate himself. Given that the state has an obligation to ‘promote general welfare’ and ‘preserve social order’; a person who shows the inclination to give it all up and die needs to be helped.

Thus, summarizing, suicide should be illegal because any inclination to suicide *needs* to be addressed, since that goes against the very fabric of the social structure. It causes suffering, is immoral, and thus reduces the general welfare of the public- which is what the constitution aims to maximize. It is thus state’s obligation to interfere and provide the requisite support structure.


It shouldn’t be normal, and we as a society should actively seek help rather than justifying someone’s will to die.

Romanii

Con

Thanks to Pro for her argument!
Apologies for my lack of formatting... I'm writing this on my phone right now, and it doesn't let me use rich text -.-

Since Pro is the one making the positive claim and it has not been stated otherwise, I will assume that she has the burden of proof, and that my role in this debate is to refute her arguments.

.

For the most part, I agree with Pro's notion that the role of a government is to promote general welfare by taking measures (i.e. creating laws) to preserve the state's social structure while simultaneously protecting individual rights.
However, I would like to stress that protecting individual rights is JUST as important as preserving the state's social structure; the two go hand in hand when it comes to ensuring general welfare.

I will be contesting all of Pro's arguments about why legalizing suicide supposedly works against the goal of general welfare.

.

R1) Morality

Pro summarizes her argument here quite nicely:

"Suicide is not right for the society. The act is a final clip from the thread holding the society together, morality. It undermines the sanctity of life, and by extension- the basis of every right, law and obligation enforced by the constitution."

1. Morality as Society's "Binding Factor"

Pro asserts that morality is "the thread holding society together". However, at the same time she concedes that morality is subjective. If morality is subjective, then people are bound to disagree on various issues concerning morality.

Take the examples of homosexuality, abortion, and economic disparities; these represent just a few of the moral issues that divide society. Morality more often serves as a divisive factor than it does as a unifying factor, due to all the different interpretations of it.

The subjective nature of morality would cause its inclusion in the law-making process to result in a complete mess of indecisiveness and ineffectivity; basing law-making on more rational, objective principles (e.g. natural rights, separation of church/state, etc.) is much more beneficial to the pursuit of general welfare.
Due to its subjectivity, morality is far from being "the thread holding society together". An action being immoral by one interpretation of morality does not warrant making it illegal.

2. Sanctity of Life

Even though Pro admits that morality is subjective, she still asserts that suicide is immoral because it violates the "sanctity of life".
I will show that Pro's "sanctity of life" argument is just another subjective moral interpretation that does not apply to everyone.

More specifically, the sanctity of life doesn't apply to suicidal people. If a guy begins to feel a desire to end his life, then obviously his life is not valuable enough to him personally for him to continue living; if the guy himself does not hold his own life to be sacred, then who are we to declare that it is still sacred? Just because many people believe that life is sacred does not mean that it is; that is their subjective belief based on their own experiences. It does not logically mean that life IS sacred for everyone. The sanctity of life clearly is not objectively true.

Thus, suicide is not immoral, as the only reason for believing so (given by Pro) is that it violates "the sanctity of life", which I have shown to be a subjective moral interpretation just like all other ethical theories.

.

R2) Individual Rights

Firstly, I will attempt to prove that the right to death is a natural human right by logical extension of the right to life...
Let's start with a simple question: on what basis do I have a "right to life" in the first place? It is based on the idea that my life was given to me at birth and is now MY property. Murder is illegal because doing so would be taking away my life, my property, without my consent. With suicide, however, that is not a problem! I am allowed to take away my own life because I have my own consent to do so.

I have the right to do what I wish with my life, just like I have the right to do what I wish with my material property. The right to death is analogous to the right to throw away my own property; many may view my exercising either of those rights as stupid and wasteful, but that does not mean that I do not have them.
Thus, the right to death is a natural human right that goes hand in hand with the right to life, based on the concept that MY life is MY property, and that I am free to do what I wish with it.

Now, Pro argues that people do not have a right to death, not because of anything to do with rights, but because of some utilitarian logic concerning the negative effects of a suicide on society.
However, Pro does not show that those effects are substantial enough to warrant the criminalization of exercising what SHOULD be a natural right.

All Pro has done is mentioned how a suicide is generally a very sad ordeal for all involved, but that does not equate to the type of societal damage that would substantially hinder general welfare.Pro has to show that the societal damage caused by allowing suicide is SO extensive, that one of our natural rights should be confiscated because of it.

.

CONCLUSIONS

My opponent and I seem to agree that the role of a government is to promote general welfare; where we disagree is whether or not making a suicide a crime is a necessary measure to take in fulfilling that role.
I have refuted both of Pro's cases in favor of the taking such a measure:

A. Morality

I. Morality is far too subjective with way too many interpretations of it for it to play a serious role in law-making. An action being immoral by one interpretation of morality does not warrant its criminalization.

II. Suicide is not immoral, anyways, because the "sanctity of life" does not apply to everyone, especially not to the suicidal people themselves.

B. Rights

I. The right to death is a natural right that all humans have as a result of having the right to life.

II. The negative social effects of suicide have not been shown to be substantial enough to warrant confiscating one of our natural rights.

.

I hand the debate back over to my opponent!
Good luck, Pro :D
Debate Round No. 2
Cermank

Pro

Cermank forfeited this round.
Romanii

Con

Extend all arguments :(
Debate Round No. 3
Cermank

Pro

Cermank forfeited this round.
Romanii

Con

Extend all arguments :'(
Vote Con...
Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Romanii 3 years ago
Romanii
Because of my schedule, I might end up posting my argument as late as an hour or so before the deadline... just wanted you to know that I have no intention of forfeiting, even if it begins to look like it ;)
Posted by Cermank 3 years ago
Cermank
22 hours. Damn.
Posted by Romanii 3 years ago
Romanii
@Envisage: shhhhhhhh!

But I have a solid rebuttal to that, anyways ;)
Posted by Envisage 3 years ago
Envisage
Attempted suicide should be punishable the same way as attempted murder is...

After all, you are making a premeditated attempt on someone's life.
Posted by Jonbonbon 3 years ago
Jonbonbon
This is going to be interesting for sure.
Posted by Romanii 3 years ago
Romanii
Whether or not the punishment is administered does not change that it is a crime.
Posted by Hematite12 3 years ago
Hematite12
You can't punish dead people lol
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Ajab 3 years ago
Ajab
CermankRomaniiTied
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Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by dairygirl4u2c 3 years ago
dairygirl4u2c
CermankRomaniiTied
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Vote Placed by thett3 3 years ago
thett3
CermankRomaniiTied
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Reasons for voting decision: no Cermank no :(