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12 Law & Phil. 1 (1993)

handle is hein.journals/lwphil12 and id is 1 raw text is: OBITUARY

Michael Bayles committed suicide August 6, 1990. He was born in
Charleston, Illinois January 21, 1941, and so died in his fiftieth year.
His suicide was carefully planned and is as much an expression of
Myke as his varied writings in ethical theory and applied ethics,
philosophy of law, and political theory.
Myke's argument for the moral acceptability of suicide is that, as he
put it, only humans can choose when they will die and that to fail
to exercise that choice is to deprive oneself of a distinctive freedom.1
A person's life is a story, he suggests, and a person ought to consider
how the story ought to end, with suicide an option under appropriate
circumstances. If, he says, what makes life a good story is happiness
or the pursuit of projects, then a long, drawn out ending without
either is a bad end of what may have been a good story?
Yet ending one's story by taking one's life always seems morally
problematic for those who must live with the death. A situation is
morally problematic if it is such that for one to know that a proper
moral judgment has been made, more information is needed and is
unobtainable. One can wonder about any choice whether the normal
conditions obtain: was the person reasonable, the choice free, the
person fully informed? In the best of cases, such doubts can be put to
rest even if a judgment rests on inferences that can be seen as proble-
matic. But such doubts -are hard to put to rest for a suicide and
especially so if one attempts to justify the choice with the claim that a
person has thereby written an ending to a happy life: How, one may
ask, can a life have been happy that had to end that way?
Myke's argument provides a response to that concern, but his
i Life, Death, and Health Care, Westminster Affairs 4 (1990): 5 [p. 3 of the
2 Ibid., p. 4.

Law and Philosophy 12: 1-3, 1993.

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