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date: 09 April 2020

Abstract and Keywords

The chapter starts with the history of Hume’s essay on suicide, and the sources and the social context of it in 1755. It also exposes the first reactions to the essay, particularly that of Adam Smith. The central sections present a critical discussion of the interpretation of the essay as a text of the philosophy of religion. The thesis of the chapter is that “On Suicide” is a text of moral philosophy. Hume refutes the Christian position and also the distinction between rational and irrational suicide; he advances—as resolutive—the positive moral principle of the natural liberty of all human beings and “the right to dispose of their own lives.” The essay has an influence in the contemporary bioethical literature just for this conception on the choices for the end of life.

Keywords: Suicide, rational, irrational, duty, motive, disposal, theism, liberty, bioethics

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