Thursday, May 10, 2018


Let's combine two traditional arguments:

i) Premeditated unjustifiable homicide is murder

ii) Murder ought to be a capital offense

i) Suicide is premeditated unjustifiable self-homicide

ii) Suicide is self-murder

iii) Suicide ought to be a capital offense

The penalty for attempted suicide or conspiracy to commit suicide should be execution. People who try to kill themselves deserve to be killed.

That's a reductio ad absurdum for a traditional argument against suicide. A dilemma. 

The appeal of the self-murder argument is that it's simple. But sometimes simple arguments are simplistic.

The "self-murder" objection should be retired. There are better arguments against suicide. 


  1. I'm not really commenting on suicide, but I don't think the logic deployed here works.

    Cut out the suicide, and replace with giving a beating. You can easily give yourself a beating. What should the penalty for giving someone a beating be? Prison? So, you should be put in prison if you do it to someone... you should be put in prison if you do it to yourself.

    But if we combine that with the logic of the post (that self-murder is not a form of murder), then it would lead to the conclusion that beating yourself is not a form of beating someone.

    As I say, this is more of a response to the logic, than to the issue itself.

    1. I didn't say that self-murder is not a form of murder. If you classify suicide as self-murder, then it's self-murder by definition.

      My point is that the inference is fallacious, at least considered as a general principle. Now, there are cases in which the parallel holds, but not because one implies the other. It's the claim of logical entailment that I deny.

      I'd add that what makes murder murderous isn't merely the action, but the intention behind the action (i.e. criminal intent, malice aforethought). For instance, it's true that if killing another human being is homicide, then killing yourself is self-homicide. That's a legitimate paralle.

      But whether that's murder depends on more than killing. Subsidiary arguments over and above the parallel are required. Although all murders are homicides, not all homicides are murders.