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Rationality and the wish to die—a response to Clarke
  1. Dr Christopher James Ryan, MBBS FRANZCP
  1. Consultation-Liaison Psychiatrist, University of Sydney and Department of Psychiatry, Westmead Hospital, Westmead, NSW 2145, Australia

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    In a scholarly and thought-provoking paper, Clarke sets out to debunk the concept of “rational suicide” as nonsensical.1 His motivation in this is to undermine any support that the notion of rational suicide might give to a “categorical right to suicide”. If his enterprise were successful, however, it would go far beyond the “rights issue” and would have a profound impact on all arguments raised in support of euthanasia or physician-assisted suicide.

    Clarke's major thrust might be termed the argument from posthumous ignorance. He begins with a claim that the process of making a rational decision involves the process of “gaining all possible facts and `imagining' all possible consequences”. He goes on to say that making a rational decision “in the consideration of life or death . . . would seem to be impossible”. It is “impossible” …

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