The gift of life argument, the claim that suicide is immoral because our lives are not ours to dispose of as we are their guardians or stewards, is a persistent theme in debates about the morality of suicide, assisted-suicide, and euthanasia. I argue that this argument suffers from a fatal internal incoherence. The gift can either be interpreted literally or analogically. If it is interpreted literally there are serious problems in understanding who receives the gift. If it is understood analogically (...) the question arises whether the gift is understood to be a finite or everlasting existence. If it is finite then it is hard to see how one can be punished for bringing that existence to an end for one will not be around to be punished. If the existence is infinite it is impossible to see how one can be punished for ending one’s life because one cannot end it. However, there is still ethical mileage to be gained from the description of life as a gift and in the concluding section I indicate one way in which this is so. (shrink)
Debate concerning virtual reality is often drawn in terms of sharply defined dichotomies--for example, between "real" (or "actual") and "virtual," "authentic" and "inauthentic," and "natural" and "artificial." In this paper we offer an alternative approach by suggesting a conception of a virtual world that highlights a continuity and commonality with our sense of everyday reality. We accomplish this in part by an examination of the English picturesque garden as if it were a virtual world partially constructed out of ideas and (...) objects collected during travels to foreign lands on the Grand Tour. Such foreign travel transformed not only the English person's sense of self, but also altered the English landscape. We conclude that in one sense the "real" England is also a "virtual" reality. (shrink)
The essays in _The Philosophy of Spirituality_ address spirituality as a subject of philosophical interest independent of religion and respecting diverse spiritual traditions: African, atheist, Indigenous, Indian, Stoic, and Sufic perspectives, as well as Western analytic and continental views.