That simple, eh? I think you’re assuming too much agreement here, and I’ve come up with a scenario to test your ethical stance. But first, lest you scold me for throwing the ball back into your court so quickly, let’s talk a bit about play making.
I know that I commited a grave sin with my introduction to the topic. After our first few exchanges on NeverFromConcentrate, we agreed that we’d try to refrain from ending our letters to each other by posing a list of questions (which is exactly what I did in my last post). We agreed that if we did that, we’d be shying away from the spotlight, too afraid to take a stance ourselves. We’d be point guards making unnecessary passes to guys in tight coverage, when there could be an open lane to the basket if we were only brave enough to put our heads down, put our arm up, and drive.
Driving is good. We shouldn’t be afraid to run right at 7-foot-tall, 250 pound philosophical topics and do everything we can to get to the basket on every possesion. But sometimes, driving isn’t the right choice. Sometimes it’s useful to pass the ball back and forth and find the open man, to pick apart the question, and to refrain from giving any answers ourselves. Sometimes we need to work on our passing, so we don’t play hero-ball in every post. Of course, we shouldn’t pass the ball too much though, because then much like Socrates, we’d spend our entire lives coming up with annoyingly poignant questions and have the good basketball fans of Athens come after us (because goddammit at some point, you have to shoot the damn ball!).
Alright, enough basketball metaphors – I’m going to tackle your question directly. Here’s the scenario:
1. I have a serious but not completely terminal illness. It’s causing me severe pain and has left me immobile. Doctors say that there is about a 50% chance that the pain can be controlled and mitigated with an experimental surgery that may let me live indefinitely (albeit with constant pain, and reduced mobility).
2. You know for a fact that my immediate family and significant other want me to agree to the surgery and do everything I can to prolong my life.
3. You also know that my significant other is pregnant, however she has not told me yet.
4. I have weighed my options and do not want to continue living. I am asking you to kill me (through some untraceable poison) and make it seem like I passed away of natural causes.
What do you do?
Ball’s in your court.