common intuition vs.It is a challenge because the logical arguments that lead to the conclusion: Suicide is morally wrong It is not very common among philosophers. Of course, one could argue that what hurts is morally wrong, that suicide hurts people, and therefore suicide is morally wrong. But this argument is placed in a utilitarian framework in which there is nothing really bad in and of itself: in other words, if the suicide’s existence generates more mass suffering than its own suicide, then their suicide would not be considered a moral error. What makes suicide a morally wrongful act, then, seems more complex than a simple story of suffering. The researchers’ task is to highlight the intuitions that guide our normative judgment regarding suicide.
Definition and preamble
in framethe authors retain the usual definition of suicide that they have adopted National Institute of Mental Health as it is ” Death caused by harmful self-directed behavior with intent to die as a result of that behavior”. They will then devise scenarios to test individuals’ intuitions about suicide. Using ancient exploratory research, they will focus on several criteria: time left to live, social harm, soul pollution, self-harm, Circumstances, what he calls self-euthanasia, prior exposure to suicide, outcome of suicide, impulsivity, and moral education.
At this point, all of these criteria are just hypotheses regarding factors that would change our moral judgment about suicide. To better understand what they cover, we’ll break them down by the different situations that would make suicide less bad:
- Remaining time to live: If the person who commits suicide has reasonably little hope of living many more years.
- social damage: If a person has little entourage, and therefore, by committing suicide, he does no harm to anyone (or almost) but himself.
- defilement of the soul: If a person has already committed morally repugnant acts and therefore already possesses an unclean spirit.
- Self-mutilation: If a person commits suicide in the most “kindest” way, this means that he causes him the least suffering.
- Serious circumstances: If the person committing suicide is in an intolerable situation (except in relation to health).
- Self euthanasia If the suicide bomber suffers from an incurable disease that causes him suffering. Let us explain why the authors distinguish between self-euthanasia and the previous point, the gravity of the circumstances. You agree that it would not be conceivable to a physician Someone in financial trouble? On the contrary, a doctor who kills a person with a terminal illness is justifiable (and this does not mean that it is legal). The authors consider this case to be different from other types of serious conditions because the suicide of a terminally ill person may not be considered a “real” suicide. If so, the presence of an incurable disease would be qualitatively different from other serious conditions. This means that there will be a difference of kind, not degree. That’s why they want to test this setup in a standalone scenario.
- Previous exposure to suicide: If the person has known someone who committed suicide in the past.
- Suicide result: If the person attempting suicide does not die.
- Rush: If the person committing suicide testifies to an internal conflict before the act. Let’s take the time to clarify our reservations on this point. Suicide is usually a long process. If the suicide attempt seems reckless, it is generally the result of a long and painful internal conflict. So this point is rather about the perception that individuals will have rather than the fact of having/absence of internal conflict in people who attempt suicide, which is generally the case.
- Spiritual teaching: If a person grows up in a society that holds values such as “ Suicide is a personal choice “.
The authors are now ready to create their scenarios in order to highlight these different criteria and present them to the participants. The first study aimed to test these parameters independently. The goal is to test the scenario in comparison to the control scenario: Mr. K is a 40-year-old man who is very unhappy in his life. He decides to commit suicide. Mr. King swallows a plate of medicine and sleeps and dies without pain. » Let’s give a brief example of other scenarios with the first parameter, the time left to live: Mr. F is a 90-year-old man who is very unhappy in his life. He decides to commit suicide. Mr. F swallows a plate of medicine, sleeps and dies without pain. » After each scenario, the participants were asked a question: To what extent did Mr. K or Mr. F do the right thing or the wrong thing? “. Responses were rated using a Likert scale.
To increase the methodological power of their study, the researchers ensured that, after each scenario, the participants actually internalized the key parameter of the scenario they were exposed to. In the case of time remaining to live, the question was: If Mr. K or F did not commit suicide (depending on which scenario random participants were in), how long could he live? » Responses were shown on a 9-point scale ranging from “very short time” (coded 1) to “very long” (coded 9). There were many scenarios such as parameters that you can find inside a file route less.
Here we come directly to the conclusion of the first study. What can be learned from the various tests is that the participants considered thisIt was less bad when a person had a short (not long) time to live, had no family or friends, and thus caused minimal social harm, and lived a life of crime and perversion (but this was not necessarily something to do with soul desecration because the parameter in question was not absorbed), when the method of suicide was painless, when he was suffering from an incurable painful chronic illness (which makes suicide a form of self-euthanasia), when he appeared to contemplate the decision (rather than seem reckless) and when his moral upbringing taught him or religious belief that suicide was a personal choice.
The seriousness of the character’s (financial) situation, prior susceptibility to suicide, and the success or failure of the suicide attempt were not taken into account.Important on the normative judgments of the participants. Aside from the self-euthanasia case, the scenarios elicited a normative judgment not too far off from the control case for self-euthanasia. Effect size, suggesting that criteria taken together (rather than in isolation) determine our strong opposition to suicide. So the authors were able to distinguish criteria that encourage our judgments of suicide as morally wrong. But there is still an obscure point: Do these criteria constitute an exhaustive list of what makes us intuitively reject ? This question is the subject of the second study.
Are these criteria necessary and sufficient to make us consider suicide a moral error?
To answer this question, the researchers’ methodology is as follows. They will propose two scenarios to the other participants, including the seven criteria set. The premise is that if normative judgments tend on average toward the midpoint of the Likert scale (i.e. viewing suicide as neutral, not morally good or bad), then this would constitute an argument that these criteria are necessary and sufficient to explain our judgments of suicide as morally wrong.
The two scenarios involved are:
- Mr. K is a 40-year-old man who is very unhappy in his life, although he is physically healthy. He was religiously educated and always learned that suicide is morally wrong. Without thinking much about it, Mr. K decides to commit suicide and in the slow and painful process ends his life by hanging.
- Mr. K is a 90-year-old man who is very unhappy with his life, as he suffers from a chronic incurable disease that causes severe and recurring pain. He lived a life of crime and deviation and hurt many people over the years. He grew up in a religious household where he was taught that suicide is a personal choice. He has no living family or close friends. Knowing that no one would miss him if he was gone, he decided to kill himself to escape the pain of his illness. After thinking for several months, Mr. King takes a whole box of medicine, sleeps and dies without pain.
After each scenario, the authors ask the same question as in the first study: How much of what Mr. K did is right or wrong? » On average, judgments tend toward the middle of the Likert scale in the second scenario! This suggests that all of these criteria constitute a comprehensive list of necessary and sufficient reasons that guide our normative judgment regarding suicide.
How do you use these results in practice?
According to the authors, these findings can be used for interventions with the general public. They suggest that by strengthening individuals’ shared intuitions about these norms and thus about the morally wrong character of suicide, fewer people will commit suicide. This is a fairly strong hypothesis that requires empirical study and to some extent denies the social and physical aspect of the suicide problem that is known to exist.
In other words, knowing your intuition can be useful in an individual setting or in adirectly from person to person, but does not appear beneficial for prevention on a large scale where the physical conditions of individuals as well as psychological and pharmacological management such as depression, appear to be the critical factors.