chapter  6
37 Pages

The Voluntariness of Rational Suicide

ByRobert L. Barry

In recent years, there has been much controversy about the rationality of reflexive killing, and numerous authors have argued that willful self-killing can sometimes be rational. Many philosophers have suggested that suicide can be rational in some instances, but not many have systematically and rigorously probed the prior question of whether suicidal acts are truly free and done with sufficient knowledge and consent to make them authentically voluntary. This chapter argues that the suicide decision does not meet contemporary criteria for rationality because it does not meet generally accepted standards for voluntariness. It examines the psychological aspects of the suicide decision to show that the conditions of minimal voluntariness required to make it rational are not present in it. The chapter also identifies the criteria necessary to constitute a level of knowledge, consent, and freedom sufficient to make the action voluntary and argues that suicidal decisions do not meet these minimal criteria.