Suicide, Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: A Buddhist Perspective

Journal of Law & Religion, Vol. 13, Pp. 385-405, 1998-1999

Posted: 15 Jul 2000

See all articles by Damien Keown

Damien Keown

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Abstract

This article explores Buddhist attitudes towards suicide, assisted suicide, and euthanasia. It considers some of the methodological problems in elaborating a Buddhist perspective, for example the lack of a central religious authority, and the limited amount of discussion of these issues in traditional sources. Drawing mainly on the Pali canon it suggests, contrary to previous scholarly interpretations, that Buddhism is opposed to suicide by those who have attained enlightenment, and, a fortiori by those who have not. It is argued that Buddhism is also opposed to assisted suicide and euthanasia by virtue of its adherence to the moral principle of ahimsa (non-harming), and textual evidence from the monastic code (Vinaya) is adduced to illustrate that acts of this kind were condemned. Two "responses" (by Peter Harvey and R.E.Florida) follow the article.

JEL Classification: K49

Suggested Citation

Keown, Damien, Suicide, Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: A Buddhist Perspective. Journal of Law & Religion, Vol. 13, Pp. 385-405, 1998-1999, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=228833

Damien Keown (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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