Guernsey Press

Belief and superstition are not philosophy

RE ‘IT’S the philosophy which underlies the permitting of euthanasia that’s the key issue’ (Open Lines 31 May). It is indeed the philosophy that underpins the argument for voluntary, assisted dying in cases of acute pain and distress. Unfortunately, the writer of the epistle fails in what underpins philosophical thought and reasoning; namely the use of logic and critical analysis of the premises and validity of the argument following from those stated premises.


Emotion and invective that underpin the second and third paragraphs are not philosophical, reasoned arguments but an impassioned diatribe that aim to convince the reader of the position they hold, through the rhetoric of fear, without any reasoned argument. Statements are propounded as facts with only reference to generalisations. The whole, weak argument is based on sentiment and scaremongering, without any basic premises and therefore no valid conclusion. Worse; each fearful plea only conflates what they take their argument to be.

‘… if the old and terminally ill can be killed with no moral qualms’; here the writer Ms Kennedy conflates self-requested, thus, voluntary euthanasia, with direct euthanasia where they are indeed, killed at the behest of the state. With assisted, requested dying, it is not that all life has no intrinsic value and therefore worthless: it is to the individual that acute pain and suffering has rendered that life not fit for purpose. Palliative care will only prolong the agony of dying to the detriment of the person suffering. It gives no utility to that person’s life but prolongs and makes the waiting of the eventual outcome worse.

Palliative care cannot relieve all acute pain in the most severe cases; especially bone cancer! In cases of acute pain, they sedate you to the point where you no longer know if you are alive or dead. You become a utility to the palliative care industry and drug companies, to the point where they are effectively causing direct euthanasia under the guise of ‘the doctrine of double effect’ where higher and higher doses of drugs are given to the patient under the premise, they are seeking to alleviate the suffering, whilst knowing the effect will be to eventually suppress the muscles that allow you to breath and you choke to death. The act and the omission of culpability is hypocritical when they argue against assisted dying. They are, by the act, doing it on a daily basis.

Believing and advocating for a right to request a pain-free end does not mean I reject the idea life has intrinsic value. Life has intrinsic value when it has pleasure and utility to me. When I have lost everything I would live for, the intrinsic value left is the negation of suffering and a dignified end. Should we not ban direct euthanasia on all sentient life or does a dog have no intrinsic value if your emotive plea holds?

The factless scaremongering makes the quantum leap from the personal choice of the sufferer, to a ‘eugenics committee’ sitting in judgement on who they, in their opinion on a subjective scale of 1-10, should arbitrarily despatch from their mortal body. If some totalitarian; dystopian government were to be set up in the future, they would not do it because some would voluntarily choose that route, but on a twisted ideological, utilitarian principle of causing harm for the greater good.

The quote by G K Chesterton and his philosophical orthodoxy, which focused on the plainness of the Apostles Creed; an Anglican who later converted to Catholicism, is full of the rhetoric of the creed of the Council of Nicosia. Suicide for selfish reasons may be abhorrent; although ironically, many of the martyred saints chose it for their own ideological belief; but that does not give a right to preventing someone choosing a good death when the alternative is further suffering, then death!

Do you so fear your own mortality that you will doggedly remain at your post till your god calls you? A god descended from the folklore, myths and legends of the Mesopotamian Basin peoples and morphed into the Abramic creed to rule a tribal, superstitious people. Belief and superstition are not philosophy, no more than the Norse ideological folklore, myths and legends. It is your free choice to suffer if you so choose, but I do not need your biblical strictures to encroach on my freedom of choice! There is irony arguing for the intrinsic value and meaning in life when that life has non-being as its end.

Janson Bewey


Rue Colin