Thoughts on economics and liberty

An open challenge to Bhagwad Jal and Anuj to write the world’s first rational suicide letter

I was hoping it wouldn't come to this, but I have no choice. No reasoned argument seems to persuade Bhagwad Jal and Anuj that there no fundamental right to suicide (see the post and comments here)

Their contention is that just because in some imaginary case one could argue in favour of suicide, it must become a fundamental right that the state must protect (else rights have no meaning, anyway). I've been arguing that one can't create a legal "right' on the basis of some imaginary case (which in any event can't be challenged, being imaginary).

I've said that repeatedly that if suicide is such a good thing for a healthy person to undertake, then I'd be happy to do it and recommend to everyone. Unfortunately that point didn't get into Bhagwad nor Anuj, who are stuck, like a broken record, in insisting that a right to commit suicide exists – and that it is a rational act.

To me, and to everyone in their right mind, suicide is caused by an unfortunate sickness of mind, an aberration, and NO case, I argue, exists where a healthy (physically and mentally) person can cogently get up and commit suicide.

We obviously CAN'T MAKE A LEGAL RIGHT on the ground of mental or other sickness. Sickness must be cured. The causes must be fixed.

Only two rights exist: to life and to liberty, with life being the predominant source of all rights.

I'm flabbergasted at the persistence of a mindless libertine argument that makes nonsense of the concept of life, of liberty – and of rationality.

I'm very aware that this is a very sensitive matter and I would be loathe to treat the concept of suicide lightly or causually. I'm very sorry if I'm disturbing anyone by discussing this issue, but unless bad ideas are PINNED DOWN AND DESTROYED, they have a tendency to keep arising in the future.

And so my open challenge to Bhagwad Jal and to Anuj:

Can you, Bhagwad and/or Anuj, please imagine that you are a healthy (mentally balanced, and physically fine) person. Now please propose to me a detailed argument – in the form of a suicide letter – that proves suicide is in your best interest. 

In DOF I've outlined a detailed process for testing the rationality of a claim for euthanasia. At the minimum I'd expect this argument/claim (from Bhagawad and /or Anuj) to be PUBLICLY vetted and thoroughly tested for cogency.

Just like all people in the world can agree to a case that 2+2=4, EVERYONE in the world should agree that there is a very good rational argument for a healthy person to commit suicide.

Note that ALL potential counter-arguments should have been taken care of in your "suicide letter", else it will be basically an IRRATIONAL letter and disprove your point.

ADDENDUM

What Drives a Person to Suicide?

Sanjeev Sabhlok

View more posts from this author
6 thoughts on “An open challenge to Bhagwad Jal and Anuj to write the world’s first rational suicide letter
  1. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    To avoid any confusion, let me repeat what I've already written on this subject earlier (in DOF).

    No healthy and wealthy person has yet been born who has gotten up from bed one fine day to ‘rationally’ declare: ‘I own a healthy body and happy mind, thus I have the theoretical option of killing myself. And so, today, instead of going on my planned holiday with my beautiful wife and children whom I adore, let me go and kill myself’. This never happens. Someone who is healthy and happy never commits suicide.

    I'm now asking Bhagwad and /or Anuj to write a suicide letter for such a person.

    S

     
  2. Bhagwad Jal Park

    I'm a captured combatant and I know I'm going to be tortured to death by the enemy. I'm also a woman I know I'm going to be gang raped for several days first. Trying to kill my oppressor will probably result in them grabbing me and tying up my hands and legs – thus rendering me incapable of harm either to them or to myself.
    They will then probably punish me further for trying to kill them.
    I'm screwed – literally and figuratively.


    Rather than face this fate, I'm killing myself with the cyanide tablet I have with me for this purpose. I know whoever reads this will understand how logical my action is.
    Sayonara!

     
  3. Bhagwad Jal Park

    Also, unfortunately rational people don't always have nice comfortable lives which are free from duress, tragedy and unfortunate circumstances.
     
    Rational people in good comfortable circumstances don't have a need to commit suicide. Rational people in unfortunate ones might well have good reasons to do so.

     
  4. Bhagwad Jal Park

    Perhaps it might be worthwhile to note that comfortable, just and fulfilled lives (the kind of person in your example) are not the only kind of people on the planet. In fact, one might justifiably say that such people are a rarity.
     
    A philosophy which doesn't accept that people can be placed in intolerable situations isn't worth much. Instead, it must cover the range of human experience – which is very wide indeed.
     
    I find your insistence on focusing only on picture perfect lives a little troubling. In your example, why couldn't you have asked me to write a suicide letter from a perfectly rational farmer in India instead of a wealthy guy with a beautiful wife, kids, and lots of leisure?

     
  5. Sanjeev Sabhlok

    Dear Bhagwad

    Thanks for taking on this challenge but I’m sorry, your letter won’t do.

    I do want a rational suicide letter from a HEALTHY, WEALTHY, HAPPY person. That’s the basic requirement of rational suicide: that someone who is otherwise balanced, and well-settled feels an urgent need for suicide SIMPLY BECAUSE he owns his body!. I got a body that I’ve got a right to destroy, so I must destroy it. That kind of argument! Please write one nice letter justifying suicide for EVERY able bodied healthy person.

    Thus, I want to know why it is rational for ME to commit suicide (let’s say). If we all agree it is a good argument then we can recommend suicide to everyone.

    That’s what is called rational suicide, Bhagwad: something that is rational and sensible for EVERYONE to do. Not what you have offered as a feeble imaginary case.

    And you have used this weird argument to defend Anna Hazare’s public suicide attempt. Was he being raped? Was he under any duress? How does your example justify Hazare?

    You do admit my precise point, when you argue: “Rational people in good comfortable circumstances don’t have a need to commit suicide. Rational people in unfortunate ones might well have good reasons to do so.”

    But note that just because someone has a REASON doesn’t make something a legal right. I might have a reason to kill someone (I don’t, but I might!, hypothetically). Just because I have a reason to kill someone doesn’t give me a RIGHT TO MURDER. Does it? Reasons must be OBJECTIVELY JUSTIFIABLE AND UNIVERSALLY APPLICABLE in order to qualify as rational, hence defensible through a constitutional, legal right.

    Under the extreme (and imaginary) case you have reverted to, once again, I can make put out many extensions and questions that will make it unacceptable to commit suicide. But I don’t want to, since that is NOT what I’m talking about. A criminal situation DOES NOT JUSTIFY A LEGAL RIGHT being created.

    I trust you’ll admit that there is NO right to suicide. Once you’ve agreed, we can discuss the merits or otherwise of the Hazare (and Gandhi) case.

    S

     
  6. Bhagwad Jal Park

    Sanjeev,


    I'm quite astonished by you calling the plight of farmers a "feeble and imaginary" case. In fact, it was you who first brought up the issue of farmer's suicide.


    Basically you're saying that any situation involving rational people in intolerable circumstances is feeble and imaginary – An absurd stand which is a classic case of labeling something away in your favor!


    Also, you're confusing two issues here.


    a) Ownership of one's body: This itself is reason enough for a fundamental right to suicide – regardless of anything else. This is beyond dispute and it makes little difference whether or not it's legalized. The right is so fundamental and deeply ingrained that no one can take it away.


    b) Is suicide rational? : You're making the assumption that a happy healthy person with no worries in life is "normal." I disagree. Life is all about problems and it's abnormal NOT to have them. Sometimes those problems become so powerful that it's far better to commit suicide than to face those problems.


    When you say that LIFE is the most important value for a liberal, you're mistaken if you think it means the mere prolonging of existence. LIFE per se is meaningless without the accompanying conditions which allow one to live with dignity and freedom – and such situations are many all over the world. Farmers in Vidarbha are just one example


    Don't be so hung up on the mere fact of life. There's nothing sacred about it.

     

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *