Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

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Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Woofsie » Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:00 pm UTC

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/8490062.stm

Spoiler:
Sir Terry Pratchett says he is ready to be a test case for assisted suicide "tribunals" which could give people legal permission to end their lives.

The author, who has Alzheimer's, says he wants a tribunal set up to help those with incurable diseases end their lives with help from doctors.

A poll for BBC One's Panorama suggests most people support assisted suicide for someone who is terminally ill.

Sir Terry set out his ideas in Monday's annual Richard Dimbleby lecture.

'God's waiting room'

In the keynote lecture, Shaking Hands With Death, the best-selling author said the "time is really coming" for assisted death to be legalised.

We should look to the medical profession that has helped us to live healthier lives to help us die peacefully among our loved ones
Sir Terry Pratchett

Should assisted suicide be legal?

His comments follow the acquittal last week of Kay Gilderdale, of Stonegate, East Sussex, who was cleared of attempted murder after helping her daughter, Lynn, to kill herself.

Ms Gilderdale admitted aiding and abetting her 31-year-old daughter, who had been battling chronic fatigue syndrome ME for years, to take her own life and was given a 12-month conditional discharge.

Lynn Gilderdale, who had been left paralysed and unable to swallow, was found dead at their home on 4 December 2008.

Sir Terry wants to see measures put in place to ensure that anyone seeking to commit suicide was of sound mind and not being influenced by others.

"At the moment if someone assists someone else to commit suicide in this country or elsewhere they become suspect to murder until the police decide otherwise," he told the BBC.

"I think it would be rather better if a person wishes to die, they could go see the tribunal with friends and relatives and present their case - at least if it happens, it happens with, as it were, authority."

A legal expert in family affairs and a doctor familiar with long-term illness would also be part of his proposed "non-aggressive" tribunals.

"It seems sensible to me that we should look to the medical profession, that over the centuries has helped us to live longer and healthier lives, to help us die peacefully among our loved ones in our own home without a long stay in God's waiting room," Sir Terry said.

More than 1,000 people were surveyed for the poll carried out for Panorama.

It found that 73% of those asked believed that friends or relatives should be able to assist in the suicide of a loved one who is terminally ill.

While there was clear support for assisted suicide for someone who was terminally ill, if - as in the case of Ms Gilderdale's daughter - the illness was not terminal, support for assisted suicide fell to 48%.

Responding to the Panorama poll, Director of Care Not Killing, Dr Peter Saunders, said: "To argue that if you are terminally ill you deserve less protection from the law than do the rest of us is highly discriminatory as well as dangerous.

"Many cases of abuse involving elderly, sick and disabled people occur in the context of so-called 'loving families' and the blanket prohibition of intentional killing or assisting suicide is there to ensure that vulnerable people are not put at risk."

'At peace'

Baroness Finlay, an independent peer who is a professor of palliative medicine, told BBC Radio 4's Today it was "hardly surprising" the Panorama poll had found public support for assisted suicide because "opinion polls reflect the way something is presented in the media".

ASSISTED SUICIDE LAWS
The 1961 Suicide Act makes it an offence to aid, abet, counsel or procure a suicide or a suicide attempt in England and Wales
Anyone doing so could potentially face 14 years in prison
Law Lords recently issued new guidelines to clarify this law, spelling out the range of factors that will be taken into account when deciding on cases
The law is almost identical in Northern Ireland
There is no specific law on assisted suicide in Scotland, although someone could be prosecuted under homicide legislation

She said licensing assisted suicide would be a "very dangerous step" because it would remove protection and "suck all sorts of people in".

"Look at what happened in other countries, for instance in Oregon - the number of assisted suicides has gone up fourfold - if that is translated to Britain, we are not talking about a small number, we are talking about a thousand a year," she said.

Baroness Finlay said people had good days and bad days and changed their mind about assisted suicide.

"If you give someone a licence at one point of time, you don't know what will happen after that, there is scope for all kinds of things to happen, like coercion," she said.

If the UK "ever went down that road" it was important legislation fell under the Ministry of Justice, not the Department of Health," she added.

"The difficulty is, if healthcare is part of it, you are actually getting doctors to take shortcuts in care, and with financial measures that's going to mount."

Lynn Gilderdale was bed-ridden by the age of 15 and was admitted to hospital more than 50 times with a succession of serious illnesses over the next 16 years.

Her mother told Panorama: "I know I did the right thing for Lynn. She's free and at peace where she needed to be. Whatever the consequences, I would do it again."

The survey was carried out earlier this month and the figures are broadly in line with previous surveys.

Last year, the director of public prosecutions issued guidelines on when assisted suicide cases should be taken to court.

But campaigners have said there still needs to be more clarity in the law.

I certainly agree with him that if a terminally ill patient wants to die then a doctor should be able to help them do it painlessly. Still, the idea of Pratchett being the test case is pretty scary - it would be so sad if he passed away. I doubt he would go through with it for at least a few years though, if at all. Afaik his Alzheimer's isn't that advanced yet.

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Arancaytar » Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:55 pm UTC

Pratchett?

I hope that that day is a long way off. :(
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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Dauric » Tue Feb 02, 2010 8:56 pm UTC

Arancaytar wrote:Pratchett?

I hope that that day is a long way off. :(


For the good ones it's never as long off as we wish it would be.
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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Izawwlgood » Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:00 pm UTC

I recall a film (The Sea Within) where a quadriplegic arranges his death by having about a dozen of his friends and family members each complete one small task (mix cyanide powder with water, put straw in cup, put cup on tray... etc), that excuses each of them from manslaughter but results in a cup of poison being placed in front of him with the straw inches from his lips.

This is something we need to responsibly mandate; I'd hate to see people coerced into committing suicide, but there are tons of reasons and examples of instances when a body should be able to end their suffering if they see fit.
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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Habz » Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:05 pm UTC

I guess he'd like to go now while he still is mentally healthy and people would remember him as such. I don't think anyone has the right to deny him assisted, painless death if he really wishes so.

Advanced Alzheimer, it ain't pretty... :(

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby MrGee » Tue Feb 02, 2010 9:12 pm UTC

Habz wrote:I guess he'd like to go now while he still is mentally healthy and people would remember him as such. I don't think anyone has the right to deny him assisted, painless death if he really wishes so.

Advanced Alzheimer, it ain't pretty... :(


That's the thing though--how can you be "of sound mind" when you have advanced Alzheimer's? Pratchett seems to excluded by his own definition.

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Spacemilk » Tue Feb 02, 2010 10:03 pm UTC

MrGee wrote:
Habz wrote:I guess he'd like to go now while he still is mentally healthy and people would remember him as such. I don't think anyone has the right to deny him assisted, painless death if he really wishes so.

Advanced Alzheimer, it ain't pretty... :(


That's the thing though--how can you be "of sound mind" when you have advanced Alzheimer's? Pratchett seems to excluded by his own definition.

He doesn't have your "typical" case of Alzheimer's, that's why.

edit: proof. visual processing =/= cognitive functioning and reasoning
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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Philwelch » Tue Feb 02, 2010 11:37 pm UTC

I don't blame him. If I had Alzheimer's, I'd not want to live it out, either. And I'll praise him for trying to make a difference with his death by becoming a test case.
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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Arancaytar » Wed Feb 03, 2010 12:19 am UTC

Dauric wrote:
Arancaytar wrote:Pratchett?

I hope that that day is a long way off. :(


For the good ones it's never as long off as we wish it would be.


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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Marbas » Wed Feb 03, 2010 2:06 am UTC

"Don't think of it as dying, think of it as leaving early to avoid the rush"
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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Mister Smith » Wed Feb 10, 2010 5:54 pm UTC

The thought occurred to me today that one way to solve the Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide debate is to reverse the legalisation of suicide.

We have the situation where society attempts to prevent suicide, views it as a waste of life, and even sections some of those who attempt it and yet maintains suicide is legally and morally allowed. If we are willing to interfere to stop people committing suicide then surely its best to make it illegal, clearing up this hypocrisy whilst solving the disparity between the rights of the physically able and disabled.

Most people considers suicide at some point in their lives and its up to society to discourage them. As for assisted suicide I don't think there could ever be enough safe guards to prevent it being misused, even the very knowledge that it is an option would put pressure on those who might not have otherwise considered it. Should we let people be killed so others may choose to die?

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Chen » Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:08 pm UTC

Mister Smith wrote:Most people considers suicide at some point in their lives and its up to society to discourage them.


Uh citation please?

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Mister Smith » Wed Feb 10, 2010 6:12 pm UTC

I considered it a reasonable assumption that in 80 years most people will make the progression from not wanting to be alive to considering killing themselves at least once.

Edit:

Suicidal thoughts are common among the general population. Thoughts of self-destruction occur to the majority of people at particular moments in their lives. Usually at times of intense disappointment or frustration.
http://www.web4health.info/en/answers/bipolar-depr-suic-prev.htm

One in 38 women and 1 in 50 men in Britain develop suicidal thoughts in a year, but less than 1 in 200 of these people kill themselves, according to new work published in the November issue of the British Journal of Psychiatry.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/11/041103234351.htm

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Chen » Wed Feb 10, 2010 8:06 pm UTC

Well the statement "Thoughts of self-destruction occur to the majority of people at particular moments in their lives" isn't really backed up at all. The second article puts forth some numbers though I really find it hard to consider 1/38 or 1/50 "most" of society. I'm not saying that there are not a lot of people who want to and/or do commit suicide, but I find it hard to believe the majority of people fall into that category.

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby BlackSails » Wed Feb 10, 2010 8:14 pm UTC

1/50 each year? So thats a 49/50 chance of not having such thoughts. After 50 years, thats a 20% chance of not having suicidal thoughts.

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Lóng the Dragon » Wed Feb 10, 2010 8:29 pm UTC

BlackSails wrote:1/50 each year? So thats a 49/50 chance of not having such thoughts. After 50 years, thats a 20% chance of not having suicidal thoughts.

That's assuming that the chance of having thoughts of suicide in year n isn't affected by the chance of having said thoughts in year n-1.
I'm just being bilingually redundant.

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Chen » Wed Feb 10, 2010 8:40 pm UTC

BlackSails wrote:1/50 each year? So thats a 49/50 chance of not having such thoughts. After 50 years, thats a 20% chance of not having suicidal thoughts.


I couldn't find any reason in the article to see how they determined the "per year" part. It said they interviewed people initially and then interviewed a subset of those people 18 months later. I cannot see how this means every year (rather than this one, 1.5 year timespan) that number of people will have suicidal thoughts, especially if this was only one interview of that type.

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Marquee Moon » Wed Feb 10, 2010 9:42 pm UTC

Mister Smith wrote:The thought occurred to me today that one way to solve the Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide debate is to reverse the legalisation of suicide.


Uhh, that ends the euthanasia debate, but then just opens a bigger debate about suicide. I'm pretty sure that anyone who thinks that assisted suicide should be legal will think that unassisted suicide should be legal, so all you've done is swapped the euthanasia debate for one that's even harder to win.

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Mister Smith » Wed Feb 10, 2010 10:14 pm UTC

One of the arguments used for legalising assisted suicide is that it allows people unable to physically commit suicide on their own the opportunity to choose when to die. And since its more logical for those who are physically close to death or suffering degenerative illness to commit suicide than those who are physically fine, the case for legalising it is compelling.

I was pointing out that one way to negate this argument, and hence hope to avoid the dilemmas surrounding assisted suicide, is to face up to the fact we are against suicide in general and reflect that in law.

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Marquee Moon » Thu Feb 11, 2010 4:26 am UTC

Mister Smith wrote:One of the arguments used for legalising assisted suicide is that it allows people unable to physically commit suicide on their own the opportunity to choose when to die. And since its more logical for those who are physically close to death or suffering degenerative illness to commit suicide than those who are physically fine, the case for legalising it is compelling.

I don't think it's our place to say whether someone being suicidal is 'logical' or justified. Pain or suffering is an inherently subjective thing, and someone being suicidal is proof enough that they're experiencing a lot of pain. Just because we don't understand what they're feeling doesn't mean that it's any less real.

I was pointing out that one way to negate this argument, and hence hope to avoid the dilemmas surrounding assisted suicide, is to face up to the fact we are against suicide in general and reflect that in law.

We're also a society that believes in individual freedom. A person's life is their business, and if they want to end their life, that's their decision to make. There's no reason for the government to get involved.

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby poxic » Thu Feb 11, 2010 4:43 am UTC

We get all antsy where the suicidalness is the predictable result of a treatable illness, though. I'm thinking specifically of severe depression, an illness that is almost always treatable if a person can get help. Even if they don't, it still usually improves on its own over time. Just like we want to treat pneumonia so it isn't always fatal, we'd like to treat depression so it isn't always fatal.

For the record, I support legal assisted (or unassisted) suicide in cases of terminal illness that brings unbearable suffering. There has to be a safeguard in place against heirs who really really want to inherit that money now, and against temporary mental effects of illness. I don't know who the hell would be best placed to provide that safeguard or make those judgment calls. Since Western society doesn't have an equivalent of a shaman, we'd probably have to go with family doctors under government regulation.
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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby psyck0 » Thu Feb 11, 2010 5:14 am UTC

Marquee Moon wrote:
Mister Smith wrote:I was pointing out that one way to negate this argument, and hence hope to avoid the dilemmas surrounding assisted suicide, is to face up to the fact we are against suicide in general and reflect that in law.

We're also a society that believes in individual freedom. A person's life is their business, and if they want to end their life, that's their decision to make. There's no reason for the government to get involved.

Individual freedom with limits. Quite a lot of limits, actually. Limits that are put in place to (theoretically) better society. It betters society to lock up criminals and try to rehabilitate them, so we do. If it betters society to try to keep mentally ill people from offing themselves, society is going to do it.

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Heisenberg » Thu Feb 11, 2010 4:03 pm UTC

Marquee Moon wrote:A person's life is their business, and if they want to end their life, that's their decision to make. There's no reason for the government to get involved.

Because suicide has absolutely no effect on the victims' family, friends, coworkers, and society at large...

For what it's worth, I really wish you were right.

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby the_bandersnatch » Thu Feb 11, 2010 4:15 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:
Marquee Moon wrote:A person's life is their business, and if they want to end their life, that's their decision to make. There's no reason for the government to get involved.

Because suicide has absolutely no effect on the victims' family, friends, coworkers, and society at large...

For what it's worth, I really wish you were right.


A person's whole life - not just their death - also affects their families, friends, coworkers and society at large, but no one would argue that it's not their life to do with as they please (as long as they don't go actively harming others through murder, theft etc). I would argue that someone's death is theirs to do with as they please also.
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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Heisenberg » Thu Feb 11, 2010 4:27 pm UTC

the_bandersnatch wrote:A person's whole life - not just their death - also affects their families, friends, coworkers and society at large, but no one would argue that it's not their life to do with as they please (as long as they don't go actively harming others through murder, theft etc). I would argue that someone's death is theirs to do with as they please also.

Every government in the world is arguing right now as to what freedoms they can restrict. Your long list of exceptions shows you don't actually believe we have an anarchist utopia where peoples' lives are theirs to do with as they please.

Your prohibition against murder, in my opinion, doesn't have any special exemptions for people who want to die.

And the "You are forbidden from killing any of these six billion people. Except this one guy, you can totally kill him any time you feel like it" argument just doesn't make sense to me.

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Accipiter » Thu Feb 11, 2010 4:39 pm UTC

It doesn't? It's not like that's the only case were the law says the person can treat itself differently than others. First example property, I can destroy my computer screen and it's legal but I can't destroy the computer screen of one of the other 6 billion people. And I can get a piercing but if I see someone sleeping somewhere I can't go "Oh a piercing would lock nice on maybe I can make the hole before he wakes up" without consequences.
What is so different about being able to kill myself but no other person (atleast without their permission since this is a thread about assisted suicide.)

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Heisenberg » Thu Feb 11, 2010 6:01 pm UTC

Human life isn't property, and shouldn't be treated as such.

This is of course my opinion, but if you'd like me to argue it I'll happily Godwin this thread.

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Kulantan » Thu Feb 11, 2010 6:10 pm UTC

Ok so lets take the piercing example. Why should it be that we can say your not allow to poke holes in people except any person who gives permission, you can totally pierce their ears any time you feel like it they ask for it but we can't replace the pierce with kill. Its good that you have addressed the weaker example but it would be interesting (and perhaps move the debate forward) if you answered the second.
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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Heisenberg » Thu Feb 11, 2010 6:39 pm UTC

Piercing does not end human life. If it did, I would have similar objections.

Here's a question for you: Is there a difference between a justice system which imprisons criminals for life and one which executes them?

Both deprive people of the right to live as they please. From the perspective of individual freedom, the man who dies in prison is no more free than the man who dies to a firing squad. Yet we consider these approaches to be vastly different. In fact, many advocates of the first condemn the second as barbaric and unethical. I contend that the reason for this difference is the inherent value of human life. I further contend that the value of human life is immeasurable.

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Mister Smith » Thu Feb 11, 2010 6:52 pm UTC

poxic wrote: I don't know who the hell would be best placed to provide that safeguard or make those judgment calls. Since Western society doesn't have an equivalent of a shaman, we'd probably have to go with family doctors under government regulation.

The problem with involving doctors is it compromises their position, some elderly people already fear doctors or the system is trying to bump them off. The western equivalent of shamans is the courts. If you are to tolerate assisted suicide in any way the best way to treat these individual cases is for suicide to be investigated by the police and any one who assisted them to be tried by a jury who can judge whether they provided assistance and whether they acted out of compassion with consent or malice.

The suicide act may have to be amended to allow courts a firmer legal basis for acquitting, pardoning, or lighter sentencing of individuals who acted with compassion, but this wouldn't be the same as fully legalised assisted suicide where the process of hastening someone's death is regulated by the government and made legal by a process of box ticking.

Heisenberg wrote: I further contend that the value of human life is immeasurable.
So this is the Heisenberg principle? In both the cases there is also a practical element in that we can never be totally certain whether what we know at the time will be right in the future, for prisoners this is whether there will be some later evidence that will prove their innocence, and for the terminally ill and those with degenerative conditions whether a medical advance will improve and extend their standard of life.

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby psyck0 » Thu Feb 11, 2010 7:03 pm UTC

Assisted suicide should be approved by doctors, because no one else is qualified to a) administer the medical stuff properly and b) make competent medical decisions about whether it is warranted, but there should absolutely also be social workers involved. It shouldn't all be on the doctors.

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Kulantan » Thu Feb 11, 2010 7:07 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:Both deprive people of the right to live as they please. From the perspective of individual freedom, the man who dies in prison is no more free than the man who dies to a firing squad. Yet we consider these approaches to be vastly different. In fact, many advocates of the first condemn the second as barbaric and unethical. I contend that the reason for this difference is the inherent value of human life. I further contend that the value of human life is immeasurable.

I contend that the person who holds the right to the decision of when to die is the one doing the dying. This is entirely separate from the issue of freedom to live as you choose. The reason I hold this view is that I hold freedom of thought as the most fundamental freedom (as opposed to the freedom to convert thought into action). It is this freedom from which I see freedom of choice of when to die coming from. While when in prison people don't have full freedom, they do have freedom of thought. However if someone is executed they do not have this freedom. This is because death is the end of thought (well of confirmed thought). If you don't have the freedom to choose your time of death then your freedom of thought is limited (because you can't choose not to think from this point on). That is why I have to support people facilitating people's choices in the matter of their own death.
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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Accipiter » Thu Feb 11, 2010 7:29 pm UTC

I never said human life was property.(though to prevent appeals to hitler I will drop the property example after explainig it.) It was an example against this argument
Heisenberg wrote:And the "You are forbidden from killing any of these six billion people. Except this one guy, you can totally kill him any time you feel like it" argument just doesn't make sense to me.
You are implying that it somehow is wrong to allow someone to do something to himself because he can't do it to others. My examples show that we have different rules for things a person can do to himself. Your answer was that life is something different and special. But saying that X isn't Y doesn't really prove that a comparison is invalid. My point was that we can do other things to ourselves we can't do to others without their permission (piercing, masturbation), thus it's normal to differentiate between things we can do to ourselves. To make your "he can't do it to the other six billions why should he be able to do it to himself" relevant it's not enough to say life is special, you have to say why it's specialness means that we shouldn't differentiate between killing ourselves and killing others.

Let's say human life has a special value, why does that mean a person can't decide about his own life. Because it has a special value to the community and not just to himself? That it has value to others doesn't necessarily mean that they can decide what happens with it. That something is valuable (even immeasurable valuable ) doesn't mean you can't discard it. If it does provide a reason why.

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Heisenberg » Thu Feb 11, 2010 7:51 pm UTC

Kulantan wrote:While when in prison people don't have full freedom, they do have freedom of thought. However if someone is executed they do not have this freedom. This is because death is the end of thought (well of confirmed thought).

Ok, so you think killing is wrong because it ends thought. I can buy that.
Kulantan wrote:If you don't have the freedom to choose your time of death then your freedom of thought is limited

The reverse is true. People killing themselves or others restricts their freedom of thought, as you argued above. So preventing the killing preserves the thought. I'm assuming that you believe this freedom of thought is valuable, since it's the justification for not killing prisoners.

I have yet to see why the 'right' to off yourself should be venerated above the preservation of life, or thought.

Accipiter wrote:My point was that we can do other things to ourselves we can't do to others without their permission

Ok. I thought you were arguing the "my body is my property" mantra. And regardless of the accuracy of that statement, I wanted to point out that we're talking about more than a body here, we're talking about a life. So while property laws may be adequate for issues concerning bodies, like piercings, they are deficient for issues concerning life, like murder (which is why different laws apply to property damage and murder).

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Kulantan » Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:34 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:Ok, so you think killing is wrong because it ends thought. I can buy that.

No, sorry probably my fault but that is not what I meant. It is wrong to kill those who don't wish to be killed because it doesn't take account of their choices about thoughts.
Heisenberg wrote:The reverse is true. People killing themselves or others restricts their freedom of thought, as you argued above.

I didn't mean to argue that "People killing themselves restricts their freedom of thought" so let me clear that up; I think that people killing themselves doesn't restrict their freedom of thought. I think it is an expression of freedom of thought.

Lets say that we have to choices in regard to thought: to think and not to think. If these are our choices, then limiting the choice is wrong if freedom of thought should be absolute. Now the confusion, I think, comes from the idea that not thinking is one of the choices within freedom of thought. If I have the freedom of thought then I can take a view on a issue. Lets use politics as a example: I can think that the left is best or that the right are right (lets keep it simple). However I don't have to take a view. I don't need to think about it. If I choose not to think about politics then I think that that right is protected by freedom of thought. It would however be a breach of that freedom if I was forced to think about politics when I chose not to. Thus the freedom of thought contains the freedom not to think. It is from there that my argument stems.
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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Mister Smith » Thu Feb 11, 2010 8:47 pm UTC

psyck0 wrote:Assisted suicide should be approved by doctors, because no one else is qualified to a) administer the medical stuff properly and b) make competent medical decisions about whether it is warranted, but there should absolutely also be social workers involved. It shouldn't all be on the doctors.


Doctors rarely do the administering of drugs, in hospitals nurses administer drugs, whilst at home people will administer drugs to themselves unless they're incapable in which case a nurse or a career (usually a relative) will.

There is no medical reason for suicide, medicine is about recovery and their is no recovery from death, unless of course you are religious. A Doctor can give a prognosis that the patient won't recover and the standard of life they can expect, and this will be done whether suicide is being considered or not. In cases where assisted suicide is being considered the patient and their families will be keenly aware of the standards of life and chances of recovery, its likely been the focus of their attention for many years.

Kulantan wrote:I didn't mean to argue that "People killing themselves restricts their freedom of thought" so let me clear that up; I think that people killing themselves doesn't restrict their freedom of thought.


Yet people considering suicide usually don't, and some of those that attempt it both survive and recover. Freedom of thought is freedom to change your mind, killing yourself removes that ability. Suicide could be viewed as murdering your future self.

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Heisenberg » Thu Feb 11, 2010 9:52 pm UTC

Kulantan wrote:It is wrong to kill those who don't wish to be killed because it doesn't take account of their choices about thoughts.

So now you're contending that thoughts aren't important, choices are.
Kulantan wrote:I think that people killing themselves doesn't restrict their freedom of thought. I think it is an expression of freedom of thought.

And your argument is getting more and more circular. You have a right to end your life because you have a right to end your thought. It strikes me as very odd that your plan to protect something is to kill it.

Also, while you are free to think of killing, expressing that thought is, by your own statement, a less fundamental right:
Kulantan wrote:The reason I hold this view is that I hold freedom of thought as the most fundamental freedom (as opposed to the freedom to convert thought into action)

Kulantan wrote:Lets say that we have to choices in regard to thought: to think and not to think.

I think it's odd that the only way you believe a person can stop thinking is by killing him/herself. Television was invented quite some time ago.
Kulantan wrote:It would however be a breach of that freedom if I was forced to think about politics when I chose not to.

So if you chose not to think about helicopters, and I badgered you into thinking about helicopters, that would be a violation of your freedom of thought, which according to you, is as criminal as murder?

I'm not sure whether your "Freedom of Thought" is what you were claiming earlier, which is the right to think whatever you want to think, or what you're claiming now, which is that you have the right to turn your brain off with a gun.

They seem to be two very different points, one of which is tangential to this discussion, while the other is the basis for a circular argument.

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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Kulantan » Thu Feb 11, 2010 11:27 pm UTC

Heisenberg wrote:So now you're contending that thoughts aren't important, choices are.

In this case the import is derived from the fact that it is a choice about the chooser's thoughts. If they wanted to kill someone else their choice would have no relevance as it is not about their thoughts. You can see why then I say it is about thoughts, rather than choice.
Heisenberg wrote:You have a right to end your life because you have a right to end your thought.

Thank you, that is my core statement.
Heisenberg wrote:It strikes me as very odd that your plan to protect something is to kill it.

Only if it is the freedom only to think what you choose. If it contains the freedom not to think then it doesn't. For example; if I wished to never speak again, would it be a violation of my freedom of speech, thus killing it? If it does kill it, then you only have the freedom to choose what you say. If it doesn't, then you have the right to say nothing.
Heisenberg wrote:Also, while you are free to think of killing, expressing that thought is, by your own statement, a less fundamental right:

Except that the only way to effect a permanent solution to wanting to think nothing is through action. If you have the freedom to do something then the right to have access to the ability to exercise that freedom is fundamental.
Heisenberg wrote:I think it's odd that the only way you believe a person can stop thinking is by killing him/herself. Television was invented quite some time ago.

Your glibness aside, if someone wanted to stop all thought (including dreams) on a permanent basis then brain death seems to me the best way to go about it. If the person is brain dead then the body is just taking up resources so the sensible thing to do seems to be full death.
Heisenberg wrote:So if you chose not to think about helicopters, and I badgered you into thinking about helicopters, that would be a violation of your freedom of thought, which according to you, is as criminal as murder?

If I interrupt you is it violation of your freedom of speech? Is the librarian's shush? My answer to this is no (or if so very minor). It is the same with helicopters. It might be a minor violation but it is just being a dick not criminal (as it doesn't limit it on a permanent basis).
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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby EMTP » Fri Feb 12, 2010 2:13 am UTC

poxic wrote:We get all antsy where the suicidalness is the predictable result of a treatable illness, though. I'm thinking specifically of severe depression, an illness that is almost always treatable if a person can get help.


Sadly, not so. Using the best SSRI for severe depression (escitalopram, we think*) the remission rate is less than 50% (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1510 ... rom=pubmed). Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) has remission rates of about 60% (http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/display ... 0?verify=0). Seeking help is certainly the right move, but severe depression is difficult to treat. Sometimes impossible.

Mister Smith wrote:There is no medical reason for suicide, medicine is about recovery and their is no recovery from death


Medicine is also about the relief of suffering. Hence the term patient, from the Greek pathos -- one who suffers. Sometimes the relief of suffering, the provision of comfort and dignity in accordance with the patient's wishes, takes priority over giving each patient the maximum number of minutes on this earth.

Here is how I think of my function, if you're interested: To cure when a cure is possible; to stabilize and mitigate harm where no cure is possible; to relieve pain and suffering; and when none of these are possible, to be a companion to the sufferer and bear witness.

* It's hard to compare drugs in the same class because the drug companies pay for the studies, and guess what? The expensive drug that's still under patent (which the company created by slightly modifying an existing drug that was yesterday's miracle cure) is always more effective than the one that just went generic and costs pennies a day. Later research often fails to support these kinds of claims.
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Re: Terry Pratchett Pushes for Assisted Suicide

Postby Woofsie » Fri Feb 12, 2010 6:32 pm UTC

The Richard Dimbleby lecture Sir Terry gave on this seems fairly relevant. I thought it was a great speech, well worth watching. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUE3pBIuAGk

Sir Terry Pratchett wrote:I remember what George said and vowed that rather than let Alzheimer's take me, I would take it. I would live my life as ever to the full and die, ­before the disease mounted its last ­attack, in my own home, in a chair on the lawn, with a brandy in my hand to wash down whatever modern ­version of the "Brompton cocktail" some ­helpful medic could supply. And with ­Thomas Tallis on my iPod, I would shake hands with Death.


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