The spectrum of views about the ethics of suicide-from the view that suicide is profoundly morally wrong to the view that it is a matter of basic human right, and from the view that it is primarily a private matter to the view that it is largely a social one-lies at the root of contemporary practical controversies over suicide.
This collection of primary sources-the principal texts of philosophical interest from western and nonwestern cultures, from the major religious traditions, and from oral cultures where observer reports of traditional practices are available, spanning Europe, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, Oceania, and North and South America-is intended to facilitate exploration of such current practical issues by exhibiting the astonishingly diverse range of thinking about suicide throughout human intellectual history, in its full range of cultures and traditions. This collection has no interest in taking sides in these debates; rather, it hopes to expand the character of what have been rather linear recent debates on issues like physician-assisted suicide, suicide in social protest, and suicide bombings by making them multidimensional.
Margaret Pabst Battin is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Adjunct Professor of Internal Medicine, Division of Medical Ethics, at the University of Utah. She has authored, co-authored, edited, or co-edited some twenty books, among them a study of philosophical issues in suicide; a collection on age-rationing of medical care; a text on professional ethics; and a collection of her essays on end-of-life issues, The Least Worst Death (Oxford, 1994). A second collection of her essays (and fiction) on end-of-life issues, entitled Ending Life, was published in spring 2005 by Oxford University Press. She is the lead author of two multiauthored projects, Drugs and Justice: Seeking a Consistent, Coherent, Comprehensive View (Oxford, 2008) and The Patient as Victim and Vector: Ethics and Infectious Disease (Oxford, 2009).
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