Suicide with the Sole Purpose of Improving Personal Experience of Life Is, in Itself, Never Immoral
"Suicide with the Sole Purpose of Improving Personal Experience of Life Is, in Itself, Never Immoral"
Definitions of terminology as they apply to this debate:
-"Suicide" - Deliberate termination of one's own capacity to experience life and maintain bodily functions to an extent such that ability to resume Earth-based, physical sentience is impossible by any known or presumed means recognized by the person.
-"Sole Purpose" - A single intention attributed to one or more events. In the context of this debate, only personal purposes are recognized, that is, purposes that are attributed to events by the person committing suicide.
-"Improving" - Effecting change upon something in a manner that is viewed by the subject as having a general, definite net benefit. Again, the improvement referred to in this debate is considered as such as it applies to the person, and not to society or anything else that value may be placed in (e.g. deities, nature, the universe).
-"Personal Experience of Life" - One's conscious perception of Earth-based self-existence that may be enjoyable, savored, painful, and/or depressing, among other traits. Experience of life encompasses all sources of emotion and thought; ergo, an absence of experience in this context necessitates an absence of emotion and thought. Furthermore, the term "life" does not include hypothetical existence via afterlife.
-"in Itself" - Without consideration of resulting external implications (e.g. An invalid argument would be 'A scenario in which suicide would only be achievable by suicide attack could be immoral because it is immoral to kill innocent people and the person's family would be shamed...').
-"Immoral" - Being 'bad' in that violation of one or more 'good' ethical principles is necessitated. Abovementioned ethical principles will be further outlined below and may undergo revisions at request if both parties agree.
Excluding effects on anything that is not the subject, it is never morally wrong to deliberately conclude one's own experience of life should doing so be purely intended to be a means of producing a positive personal experience.
Model of Morality:
-All life is equal even if the vessels in which it is experienced are not. A tree is just as alive as a human, despite being arguably inferior.
-The value of one's person and life is greater than any other, but less than any two. A person should prioritize his or her life over any other single person. That said, the person is less significant than any two others, so two apples for any two other people is morally better than one apple for the subject.
-Happiness is morally good and sadness is morally bad. Any other state that is not related to either happiness or sadness is morally neutral.
-In most cases, the moral implications of sadness outweigh that of happiness. Largely, this is because sadness manifests itself as stress that has a lingering detrimental effect.
-Potential happiness and sadness that may be achieved in life must hold moral value.
-A person is any individual being that is subject to experience and that may be happy and sad. This includes, humans and most (if not all) non-human animals.
-Action is not morally associated with the performer - however, intention is. A person who burns down a house while cooking dinner for a spouse and children is, based on this information alone, moral, but the actions performed have a detrimental effect on net moral value in the world.
-Anything that may produce happiness or sadness may have an impact on net morality. A person is capable of producing much happiness as well as sadness; thus said person's existence may affect net morality.
As a side note, I would like to mention that this is my first online debate and that I genuinely apologize if my formatting or writing is insufficient in any capacity. I would be grateful if anyone were to accept a position against the proposal signified by the topic, as well as if people could provide tips if I have or will make any errors in my debating, particularly in debating conventions. I don't expect to 'win' to any extent or by any means; rather, I want merely to debate, to learn something, and to bring ideas to the attention of others.
Instructions to the Opposing Party:
If you wish to make revisions to the above moral code, you may propose them in this round, then make your argument. If you do feel that such changes are necessary, you should formulate your argument according to that modified code, provided that the changes are not unreasonably radical (in which case you may wish to provide two cases to accomodate multiple views).
As the opposing party (and other viewers) may be confused about the definitions provided, I will clarify what is to be considered and what should be dissociated.
Suicide necessitates the utter cessation of life and everything that entails. In life, there are many things that are related to morality, and so by ending life, moral worth changes and the person’s morality itself may also change. Simultaneously, the person’s death may have effects on the world for the better or worse – however, that is not being assessed.
The Pro party is expected to attempt to prove that of the infinite scenarios in which suicide may occur to any person (not limited to humans and existing forms of life; see definition) within the described criteria, there exists a constant: that the person is morally more favourable for his/her/its actions, as according to the moral code provided.
The Con party is expected to attempt to produce any number of valid scenarios in which a person committing suicide under the described criteria is morally not more favourable for his/her/its actions, as according to the moral code provided.
Any confusion may have been a result of the moral code, as some aspects of it do not apply to this debate specifically because of restrictions noted in the topic and definitions. However, I assure that there exist arguments for both sides of this debate.
I will again allow the Con party to create an argument, as was intended. Should the other party choose not to during this round, regardless of reason, I will proceed to begin my own.
As the opponent does not agree with or otherwise has rejected the provided model of morality to some extent and has argued without consideration of it, the model will be dismissed.
To first respond to arguments given by my opponent, life does not have a universal purpose. Accepted science, challenged and meticulously
In continuation from the above, I recognize that the opponent may have been referring to a non-universal purpose – something more specific to individuals and objects. For example, a mother and father may have
Suicide is a solution to life and all the problems that entail. Life produces many things that the person may or may not enjoy. It is death that brings a close to those events. If someone feels that an absence of life is a better state to be in, or if someone values non-existence or a form of afterlife that said person believes in over life, why can’t the person skip the remainder of life? Maybe I don’t view life as a privilege. Maybe I want to die. Maybe I’ve lived as long as I need to. Life must conclude eventually, and when it does, everything achieved during it is lost regardless. The endpoint remains the same, and of the infinite points in between, there were a few more spent in death, and if I like death, where’s the moral conflict? I didn’t earn my life. I didn’t choose to
"Life does not have a universal purpose."
My opponent has stated that accepted science has concluded that life is a conglomerate of atoms aligning the wrong way one eventful day. I request that my opponent please explain to me how this is true. And if my opponent can prove it, please also explain to me how those atoms can about, for nothing can materialize without having some previous thing to materialize from. (Thus making the Big Bang theory as a questionable argument.)
"Life is still life, and if it had no purpose before it would not have a purpose now."
If this point is true, than why has life improved from the first single-cell organisms? Also by stating this point, you say that you yourself came about randomly and are a complete waste of space unworthy of existing. If you feel this way, why is murder wrong? Why do we hold moral values? What is the point of even trying at life? How very little you must think of yourself.
"I recognize that the opponent may have been referring to a non-universal purpose..."
If I made you believe this I must apologize for my lack of clarity. I feel that there is a universal purpose in all life. The only reason this may be disputed is because of a very narrow mindset. If I am given the opportunity, my opponent may bring up event and I should be able to explain it's universal purpose.
"The only exception is if the person somehow creates its own sentience/personhood, in which case no purpose could be assigned because one needs to be capable of thinking to assign a purpose"
This is impossible, humans are not asexual.
"A boy pushing a younger child off a swing to get a turn is immoral, I think."
Let's be reasonable here, no offense intended, there is a very thick line between what is right and what is wrong. The only people, in my opinion, unable to sense this are those afflicted with mental and judgmental ailments. And my opponent goes on to say no one person dictates morality in the presence of others. The only reason that is is because morality, generally, has been defined since the time of Mesopotamia.
"Life must conclude eventually, and when it does, everything achieved during it is lost regardless."
Sure life must conclude eventually, but if one has done his best and made the most out of life, those achievements that he/she has made will not just vanish. What of the hundreds of people we still talk about that are deceased. Edison, Caesar, Einstein, Doolittle, FDR, Copernicus, the list just goes on and on. This also shows my opponent's reassertion that he and humanity has absolutely no purpose. Once again if this is true than why does science even bother to do anything. The purpose of life may no be obvious but there is definitely a purpose to life. I also must say that I find that point quite insulting.
"The endpoint remains the same, and of the infinite points in between, there were a few more spent in death..."
I would like my opponent to clarify this point before I address it. I want to be 100% sure of what is being said so that I may not twist my opponents words.
"I was forced into this existence with neither my permission nor my prior knowledge, and yet I have an obligation to live this life until something beyond my intentions kills me? How is that moral?"
In all of nature, there is not one thing that is immoral. If this is true than why of all natural things is the process of human conception the thing that is immoral? And by asserting this point my opponent insinuate that my opponent would prefer to live a non-sentient life.
Suicide with the Sole Purpose of Improving Personal Experience of Life Is, in Itself, Never Immoral
I request that my opponent not include external influences as was requested of me. Suicide is in a situations immoral. Using my opponents logic and apparent ideology, one may never like death, they may like the way it sounds, but they may never like death. For one may never enjoy something in which they have never partaken in. (It is similar to me saying that I enjoy going to space even though I may not have even step foot outside the country) I now demand that my opponent address this issue. How can ceasing one's life improve personal experience? This is contradictory and if it remains unaddressed I will continue to press the issue.
"The opponent does not agree with or otherwise has rejected the provided model of morality to some extent and has argued without consideration of it, the model will be dismissed."
(My issues with the code will be addressed here. All points that remain unaddressed are points I agree with)
All life will never be equal. Sure plants and animals all have life but there are people, plants, and animals (less so with the plants and animals) that are quite indolent and it would not make a difference whether or not they live. Happiness and sadness are not particularly good or bad, like you said, maybe I enjoy being sad. Maybe being sad brings me happiness. There is no net morality, morality is set on a person by person bases. But it could be said that people tend to be morally bad or that people tend to be morally good. A person is not an animal... does that even make sense to you. (Once again no offence I am debating for personal experience not for debating sake) My definition of a person is a human being and that only. But other than that I agree with your code of morality.
In defence and reinforcement of my established arguments, I will now address the points just presented by my opponent. I could not go into full detail due to character count restraints, however, so I apologize for brevity in some areas, as I had to cut out a lot.
As the Con party challenged claims regarding abiogenesis, I will provide a few sources. I would summarize what they say, but I don't have the character count. Now, the origin of all matter is said to be a result of the Big Bang in which the abrupt appearance of condensed matter in the universe resulted in heat and energy. The matter then expanded due to this and, because of the nature of space and gravity, drifted outwards and formed cosmological bodies in various directions. Ergo, we have the universe. Of course, this is all based on some fundamental assumptions, but so are all other beliefs, and this is the predominant model for the origin of the universe, and for that I feel it is worth extra consideration.
But I digress. This debate is about suicide. To the next point suggested by the opponent, that my stating that life has never had purpose violates evolution, I respond simply by saying it does not. I believe evolution occurs because DNA changes. Purpose does not need to exist for anything else to happen. “Why” does not and, in my opinion, should not override “how”. If the theories I believe in are true, and it is possible that they are, then the world just happened. There’s nothing else to it. If “why” is asked enough, everything boils down to “what created reality?” to which the answer would be that reality must exist for anything else to exist, and so reality is not a product of anything within itself. Time is supposedly infinite, so there was not necessarily a beginning. No purpose is involved whatsoever, just a series of natural processes. That is a possibility. I ask that that be acknowledged. The opponent proceeds to state that my arguments implicate personal worthlessness and status as “a complete waste of space unworthy of existing”. The latter is in no way encompassed by the meaning I had intended, nor do I feel that my phrasing suggests it. The kind of purpose that life lacks is one that would apply to all persons, and that could only have been provided by something deliberately creating an origin for all such persons. Again, I don’t believe that’s the case. This would not mean that life is a “waste”; it just means that life has no universal purpose that would define moral value. Still, that doesn’t mean that life has no morality to it. Purpose does not constitute morality. There are other sources of moral guidelines besides fulfilling a purpose something else wants of you. A very significant question asked by the opponent is “what is the point…?” I would say there is none. We have innate drives and urges, such as to eat and reproduce, and we follow these impulses, thus driving life forward. Why do we do this? Because we want to, that’s why. It’s by design.
Now about the definition of a person: a human and a person are not necessarily synonymous. The definition of a person is provided in the first post. The Con party’s arguments are not supposed to be limited to totally proven and existing scenarios, but hypothetical ones as well. Since the opponent has so far avoided scenarios overall and seems to prefer a more absolute stance, this is largely irrelevant and does not apply.
I sincerely apologize for the offense; I worded my statement poorly: “life must conclude eventually, and when it does, everything achieved during it is lost”. What I had meant is that in my beliefs (and I was talking about my own death in the quote, not anyone in general who could have conflicting beliefs), I will not bring my accomplishments with me at death. I did not mean to imply in that same statement that I would not leave a legacy behind, because that is indeed true, as the opponent has also said. In fact, that is my point: we leave everything behind and life yields nothing for the person in the endpoint. If death would be preferable, then for that person, life could be a waste of time. Then there’s the issue of why people strive to improve and ‘make the world a better place’. Again, it’s inherent: an inbuilt desire to better the odds of human survival. Humanity makes living conditions more favourable and reproduces knowing their offspring will do the same, as will their offspring and so forth. We do this with the knowledge that there will not be an ultimate generation whose existence will satisfy all our purposes, but we do it anyway, because it’s what we do.
The opponent asked what is meant by the following: “The endpoint remains the same, and of the infinite points in between, there were a few more spent in death”. We all die and when we do, no matter when or how, we will be dead in the same way. If by suicide, then there will logically be more time spent in this state of death. To be honest, it is important to me how I die. I do value dying by my own hand and terms. I don’t want my deathbed to be a borrowed, foul-smelling hospital bed, in which I would lie in fatal regrets. In my last breath, I want to sigh in relief as the fingers of a god, angel, or my own mind carry me off to that infinite place from which I once came so long ago.
The next point of the opponent seems to be based on an idea explained above. Again, purpose and morality are not derived from each other. Just because I don’t think there’s purpose does not mean something has no morality to it. And I do not believe that it is immoral for persons to be born, but it is immoral to uphold an automatic sort of moral contract preventing people from morally committing suicide. Imagine a person who, for whatever reason, does not want to live. Well, he is born anyway, because no one asked him. Then he is told that he mustn’t commit suicide, even though he doesn’t want to live.
The opponent later mentions that one cannot like death per se because they would need to first experience it. I completely agree, but one may still think they like death. They can think, they can assume, and they can believe. I could make a pie for a friend, and I would be moral. If I then accidentally dropped the pie on my friend, but my intention was to let her eat it, I’d still say that I would be moral. The opposition also asked that I attend to the matter of how death could improve experience. A simple situation would be being guaranteed that living hereafter would result in being tortured for the rest of one’s life. Life would then arguably be a burden and negative by virtually all moral standards. Thus choosing to not be tortured and conclude one’s existence would be an improvement to one’s experience. There could also be religious scenarios and philosophical ones, but in the interests of time and character count, one should suffice.
I will address my opponent's arguments as they appear, also keeping in mind the fact that my opponent had character limit difficulties. I also had problems with the character limit and could not touch on the actual subject of suicide, for my characters were spent responding to my opponent's arguments.
"Now, the origin of all matter is said to be a result of the Big Bang in which the abrupt appearance of condensed matter in the universe resulted in heat and energy."
-This theory, according to the law of conservation of energy, is implausible. There must have been something there previously. Nothing in this world of matter appears abruptly. I say if my opponent cannot provide an explanation to as what happened before the big bang and the singularity, I demand that it be acknowledged that there is a hole in my opponent's logic/beliefs.
"...because of the nature of space and gravity, drifted outwards and formed cosmological bodies in various directions."
-This is a somewhat contradictory statement. If the nature of gravity is involved how can the universe be ever-expanding? Why does it not contract?
"...that my stating that life has never had purpose violates evolution, I respond simply by saying it does not. I believe evolution occurs because DNA changes."
-I again assert my previous point. Nothing naturally happens without one thing or another being benefited. There must be a purpose to human, beings whether you see it as an earthly purpose or a spiritual purpose is a different question. I again challenge my opponent to provide a series of things and I should be able to explain it's purpose.
"Why" does not and, in my opinion, should not override "how".
-Sure why does not override how but it is and should be just as important a question.
"No purpose is involved whatsoever, just a series of natural processes. That is a possibility. I ask that that be acknowledged"
-I will acknowledge this as an argument and nothing more. My convictions warn me against acknowledgements of such points. Not only that this assertion is based an assumption.
"This would not mean that life is a â€œwasteâ€�; it just means that life has no universal purpose that would define moral value."
-Universal purpose does not necessarily define moral value. Also if this is your belief then you come to the question of sentience. If we have no universal purpose why is it that humans are sentient, or that we are significantly more intelligent than the next animal?
"Now about the definition of a person: a human and a person are not necessarily synonymous. The definition of a person is provided in the first post"
-The definition of a person provided by my opponent is frankly not correct. If one looks at my opponent's definition: "A person is any individual being that is subject to experience and that may be happy and sad" and then looks at the definition in multiple, prestigious and credible dictionaries, they will see that my opponent has changed the meaning to a degree. The basic definition of a person is: a human being regarded as an individual. I once again reassert the point that a person is a human being and only that. Animals, especially those not in captivity, aren't subject to meaningful experiences.
"We all die and when we do, no matter when or how, we will be dead in the same way."
-I agree with this point to a certain extent. I do not believe though, that we will all be dead in the same way. I will not go into the specifics of it though.
"Imagine a person who, for whatever reason, does not want to live."
-The only situation in which I would agree with "suicide" is in the case of euthanasia. It is also not the case that he was not "asked", he even requested to live consciously but once again I will not go into specifics.
"The opposition also asked that I attend to the matter of how death could improve experience. A simple situation would be being guaranteed that living hereafter would result in being tortured for the rest of one's life"
-This situation is quite implausible. Nowadays people commit suicide for the smallest of things. I find it quite ridiculous that just because someone calls you a mean name over and over again or you failed a test, that one has the right to consider suicide. My convictions say that this person was meant to experience this torture and should expect to experience the same, if not worse treatment after death. One also, according to the opposition's apparent beliefs, would cease to exist completely after death. The question asked has not been completely answered. One's experience cannot be improved if it is ceased. This is similar to saying, in my opinion, I'm going to improve an amusement park by shutting it down.
"I would say there is none. We have innate drives and urges, such as to eat and reproduce, and we follow these impulses, thus driving life forward. Why do we do this? Because we want to, that's why. It's by design."
-My opponent says that it is by design. If it's by design, then who's design is it? And why are we designed to do anything in the first place if you say we have no universal purpose.
"I want to sigh in relief as the fingers of a god, angel, or my own mind carry me off to that infinite place from which I once came so long ago"
-I again need this to be clarified. What is this "infinite place" you speak of? And I also do not understand the the first portion of the sentence.
"The Con party's arguments are not supposed to be limited to totally proven and existing scenarios, but hypothetical ones as well. Since the opponent has so far avoided scenarios overall and seems to prefer a more absolute stance, this is largely irrelevant and does not apply."
-Scenarios are completely useless. I'm not here to play a game of "What if?" My opponent also said in the first few rounds that this was supposed to consider suicide and suicide only. If this is so then why would there be a need for scenarios in the first place? I also find that arguments based on scenarios and assumptions are weak at best and one could easily disgruntle an opponent that has based there argument on assumptions. I also request that my opponent explain how relying on facts or a more absolute stance is irrelevant. I also ask my opponent, aren't one's beliefs/convictions supposed to be based on facts? For some they may not be based on facts, if this is the case these people are fooling themselves.
Firstly, I must thank the opponent for participating in this five-round debate. It was my first on this website, has helped define my impressions of it and, as such, has been a valuable experience. Moreover, I wish to clarify that I completely respect the other party's arguments, regardless of whether or not I agree. I hope that others have learned things from this debate as well. Nonetheless, the debate is not over and I have a few more words to offer.
The opponent has said that there must have been an entity that caused the Big Bang. I would assume that the Big Bang signified the beginning of time, in which case the Law of Conservation of Energy is not violated. Other alternatives are that a Big Bang event is a product of some unknown phenomenon related to dark matter, or there was some entity in another, incompatible dimension that does not exist in our universe that created the universe and with it, the Big Bang (it couldn't exist and interact in the universe because there was no universe to exist in yet). Both of these latter explanations, however, are based on ideas that are not meant or impossible to have supporting evidence.
The opponent then said that gravity would bring things closer, and as I said, it has brought large bodies together such as star systems and galaxies. But these bodies are drifting outwards due to the energy of the Big Bang.
The opponent also says that all “natural” events must “benefit” something else and asks that I provide a scenario. I propose that on an asteroid drifting through space that will never support life and that is too far from any life-bearing planets to be observed or noticed, a pebble has shifted due to gravitational reasons. In the way I see it, the asteroid, which might not affect any other celestial bodies other than with extremely trivial gravitational pull, has no necessary beneficial existence whatsoever to anything else. Also, the pebble, by moving, will affect centre of gravity by an unfathomably insignificant amount, but does not necessarily have any effect on the trajectory of the asteroid. Because the universe is expanding at an accelerating pace, the asteroid may not ever collide with anything of relevance. Therefore, the shifting of the pebble, despite being a natural occurrence, may not have caused any indisputably beneficial effects to another entity. I ask, then, what was the purpose of having the pebble shift, and what specifically defines this purpose?
The opponent then goes on to advocate “why” as a question as important as “how”. I agree, because I feel that all unanswered questions are significant, but my implications were in reference to those who seek out “why” and pretend it satisfies “how”.
The opposition argues that universal purpose is not necessarily equal to moral value. Not only do I agree, but I stated that in the sentence right after the one that was quoted. Though this may make the opponent's paragraph redundant, it was also asked if there is no universal purpose, why there is sentience. I do not see how purpose, existence, and sentience relate, but I have already said that evolution has drastically affected life and I do not see how it could not have created sentience and human intelligence, given that humans on average have the greatest known brain-mass ratio.
About the definition of a person (again), I would argue that the matter of personhood is up to debate. Regardless, it'd be too late to change anything according to which of us is correct, so I suggest that the matter be now dropped.
Now, regarding the opponent’s beliefs, I respect that it's possible that they are true, at least to some extent. However, I strongly believe that it is a choice – a valid choice – to give value to death. We do not know who or what is factually correct, but we can guess and believe in those guesses. I might make such a guess; I might think that death is a thing reasonably deserving of my faith, in a sense not unlike how others hold faith in life. Despite my tone that may suggest otherwise, I do not challenge that – I just disagree. My opinion remains unchanged because another’s opinion bears no more evidence than my own, and with my acknowledgement of that, my explanation by design may justify my rightful belief, but not convince others of any truth to be gleaned from it. But there are those who would agree with these values and seek death to purge themselves of a perhaps tainted existence. And so who is to say that they are wrong when they commit themselves to a viable possibility, as accurate as any other? And what is morality to speak of their wrongs when they have done what they feel is right? Regardless, just to challenge one thing about the opponent’s beliefs (though I suspect the opponent already knows an elaborate answer for it), I ask how a person could be conscious and capable of making such a choice as accepting life if the unborn person does not have a brain to think, to know how to accept, and to recognize that it is being asked to live and accept certain terms (among which is that one will not commit suicide, other than through euthanasia). Also by those same beliefs, if a person is supposed to by ridiculed, tortured, and/or put through pain by others in life and beyond, is that person supposed to commit suicide if he/she/it does so?
The opponent proceeds to state that it's implausible for my provided situation to exist. I ask how. But furthermore, it is said that one’s experience cannot improve by ending. It can, because life can be a negative experience. Non-existence is neutral, which of course is better than something negative. As I said, being tortured perpetually is a negative experience, and so death is an improved experience, simply by not being a conscious experience at all. Therefore, the negative experience has been remedied – it has improved.
Next, the opponent asks what designed life. By my beliefs, it would be evolution and nature. Natural selection and certain stimuli in the world have lasting effects on the adaptation of life, and among the products is the human race. It is also asked why humanity was designed assuming an absence of purpose, and the above explanation still applies.
It was asked what was meant in the sentence “I want to sigh in relief…” I am referring to death. In my last breath, I’d sigh in relief, knowing that I died the way I want to die. I’d return to the state of non-existence I came from: an infinite death.
Last of my counter-responses, the opponent seems to have misread and/or misunderstood. I said and meant that this debate would have originally accommodated scenarios, because it was supposed to be about whether or not suicide could violate one specific moral code, and so if the Con party had at least one valid scenario, that party would have won. But since we removed that one moral code, all this can be dismissed. I was absolutely not talking about the opponent’s arguments being irrelevant.
Thank you, Yamashita: intelligent conversations like this are hard to come by.
Yamashita forfeited this round.