Suicidal thoughts: Hobbes, Foucault and the right to die

Philosophy and Social Criticism 32 (5):601-638 (2006)
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Liberal articulations of the right to die generally focus on balancing individual rights against state interests, but this approach does not take full advantage of the disruptive potential of this contested right. This article develops an alternative to the liberal approach to the right to die by engaging the seemingly discordant philosophical perspectives of Michel Foucault and Thomas Hobbes. Despite Foucault’s objections, a rapprochement between these perspectives is established by focusing on their shared emphasis on the role that death plays in the order of modernity. After the article has established the complementarity of Foucault and Hobbes, Hobbes’ unique stance toward suicide is first viewed in the context of the early-modern hostility toward suicide, and then contrasted with Foucault’s Stoic-inspired affirmation of suicide. This comparison of these two philosophers’ positions on suicide opens to contestation dimensions of modern subjects that remain undisturbed by liberal approaches to the right to die Key Words: bio-power • Michel Foucault • governmentality • Thomas Hobbes • liberalism • right to die • self-preservation • Seneca • Stoicism • suicide



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Thomas Tierney
College of Wooster

Citations of this work

Foucault, Rights and Freedom.Ben Golder - 2013 - International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 26 (1):5-21.

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