Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE (www.oxfordhandbooks.com). © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 20 August 2019

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

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.