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Morality, Life, Choice, and Death

The choice whether one lives or dies is a situation fraught with complications; do we have the power to take away our own lives when we believe that our purpose is taken away from us? Or do we continue to live on, reassert our purpose and find a new way in life? Dan’s case as a young athlete defined his life into the perfection of his own craft. His purpose of existence is his ability on the field and nothing else; the injury reinforces his consciousness that he cannot fulfill any other purpose in life because he firmly believes that rugby alone is what he ultimately dedicates himself to.

Even if he chooses to live and finds another purpose, he would consider it second class, even with his intelligence, and would not find any happiness or satisfaction. Thus, he decides to end his life rather than live a failed existence. Inevitability of Death Dan’s decision, from an outside perspective, may be considered immoral, since every human being has a right to live. However, from his viewpoint, he alone considers it to be the right thing to do and thus morality is taken out of the question.

The question on morality in this case is highly subjective – do we respect Dan’s decision in accordance with his intentions of how to live his life or do we place importance on the value of human life itself as an ample purpose for existence? Dan’s choice, in essence, is considered morally wrong since individuals have the selfsame right to live even under any circumstances that inhibit a purposeful existence. On a religious viewpoint, life is given by God and God himself has the power to take away life. Thus, we do not ultimately have control over our ‘borrowed’ lives; rather we live life to the fullest.

However, this does not entirely justify the moral implications of assisted suicide but provides a viewpoint that supports the argument on the right to live. We take into context deontology a duty-centered ethical system that reinforces the notion of death as a wrong action in terms of absurdism. Albert Camus’ concept of absurdism argues on the existence of subjective truths rather than universal objects of truth. Life is considered absurd since it is inevitable that we die, thus our worldly pursuits are ultimately meaningless.

However, Camus does not aim for a morbid or dismal presentation of the absurd; rather he purports such truth in order to reflect upon an appreciation of life as well as happiness. As found in his novel, The Stranger, the protagonist of the story states: I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe. To feel it so like myself, indeed, so brotherly, made me realize that I’d been happy, and that I was happy still. (Camus, 1989, p. 76) In Dan’s case, he has come to a realization that his life does not have a purpose any longer because of his injury.

His purpose is focused on rugby and nothing else, thus reinforcing his consciousness that there are no other avenues to explore in leading another life. This argument affirms on a detached moral standpoint that his assisted suicide is morally wrong; he merely gives up on purpose rather than facing death without fear. The purpose and meaning of life is challenged by the inevitability of death. True understanding for individuals is the recognition of death, because there is no absolute reason to fear certainty, and death is certain.

From such realization, individuals create meaning, which through experiences and decisions can alter the view on death. Thus, to possess morals or religion would not matter if one would die. He wishes to be put down merely because of the lack of purpose; he, however, remains fearful of death but his purpose impedes him from feeling such. An argument opposing absurdism lies on deontology. This ethical system argues on the proposition that a rightness and wrongness of an action is determined through the intention rather than the consequences.

Kantian ethics formulated through the Categorical Imperative, states for the formation of an imperative or universal that will inevitably govern an individual’s duty that necessitates its rightness: “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, always at the same time as an end and never merely as a means to an end” (Kant, 1993, p. 36). In this case, individuals are first to create an understanding that reason governs choice or will; that the purpose of life is to uphold duty which necessitates its rightness.

Choice alone is riddled with intentions, whether good or bad, thus leading to immoral actions. Through the understanding of duty, the individual fully comprehends the responsibility of consequences whether good or bad. Duty, in this sense, is what we ought to do rather should or could. In Dan’s case, he understands that the purpose is no longer important and that he has willingly accepted the consequences of his own intentions, thus making the assisted suicide moral. The Problem of Choice In response to deontological ethics, choice becomes the penultimate basis on life and death.

Individual choice asserts freedom over how life should be lived. It also corresponds to when and how we should end our lives. Duty should be delimited on actions that entail actions beneficial toward the self and others. What is essential in deontology is the obligated understanding of consequences rather than intentions. Consequences remain inevitable for every action and morality depends on the intention of every action. However, there remains a question on a foundational moral law concerning assisted suicide, euthanasia, and suffering.

Some views, especially the Catholic Church, firmly hold that to take away life, either through suicide or assisted death is considered a sin which holds basis on purely religious tenets. Suffering is then mediated with alternatives, either through medication and advanced treatment. However, these alternatives remain temporary and would inevitably cause pain in part of the patient. Dan’s case had placed him in a vegetative state and even with medication or treatment, he would not be able to fully live his normal activities because of his incapacities – then there is no point of keeping himself alive.

Among the multitude of moral arguments concerning euthanasia, the fact remains that life and suffering are two separate objects of experiences that complicate the tenets of morality. Life however, cannot be weighed simply; neither is death.

References

Camus A. (1989). The Stranger. (M. Ward trans. ) United States: Vintage International: Kant, I. (1993). Grounding of the Metaphysic of Morals with “On a Supposed Right to Lie Because of Philanthropic Concerns” (I. Ellington, Trans. ). Indianapolis (Indiana): Hackett Pub. Co.

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