Breaking the Thread of Life: On Rational Suicide

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Transaction Publishers, Jan 1, 1994 - Social Science - 353 pages
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Suicide, and how civilized people should respond to it, is an increasingly controversial topic in modern society. In Holland, suicide is the third leading cause of death of people between the ages of fifteen and forty. In the United States, it is the second leading cause of death among older teenagers. Laws prohibiting assisted suicide are being directly and boldly confronted by activists in the United States, most notably Jack Kevorkian. Meanwhile, the American Civil Liberties Union has publicly declared suicide a fundamental human right that should be protected under the Constitution. The Hemlock Society has introduced referenda in California, Washington, and Oregon to legalize suicide and assisted suicide. The most vocal opposition to these initiatives has come from the Roman Catholic church.

"Breaking the Thread of Life "marshalls philosophical, moral, medical, historical, and theological arguments in support of the Roman Catholic position against suicide. In a comprehensive study of the history of suicide, Barry shows that Christian civilization was one of only a few early societies that was able to bring suicide under control. He counters claims that Catholicism and the Bible endorse rational suicide. Barry also analyzes arguments in support of the rationality of suicide and illuminates their biases, inadequacies, and dangers.

Barry presents the rationale for the Roman Catholic church's strong, extensive, and articulate opposition to efforts to gain legal and social endorsement of suicide and assisted suicide. His book represents the most complete study of the classical Roman Catholic view of rational suicide to date, and it will be of significant interest to philosophers, theologians, physicians, and lawyers.

 

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Breaking the thread of life: on rational suicide

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Barry, a Dominican priest and professor of religious studies, counters the views of so-called "rational suicide" adherents (Jack Kevorkian, the Hemlock Society) in this useful treatise. Morally ... Read full review

Contents

Defining Suicide in the Catholic
1
What Counts as a Suicide
14
The J udeoChristian Response to Ancient Suicide
35
The Emergence of Modern Suicide
57
The Enlightenment and the Reemergence of Suicide
73
Catholicism and the Morality of Suicide
91
The Biblical Teachings on Suicide
114
The Catholic Moral Arguments against Suicide
123
When is Suicide a Voluntary Decision? The Hard
225
Clarifying
237
Recent Developments in Analgesic Therapy
243
Analgesia
249
Conclusion
264
The Social Dynamics of Rational Suicide
275
Protecting the Common Law Tradition on Suicide
281
Conclusion
303

The Critique of the Catholic Teachings on Suicide
143
Conclusion
151
The Rationality of Suicide
165
Suicide as an Irrational Action
181
Conclusion
194
A Psychological Portrait
201
Suicide
309
Problems and Paradoxes
318
The Theology of Euthanasia and Pastoral Care
324
Shepherding
333
Index
345
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