Should the state permit:a person to harm him- or herself? a person to consent to be harmed by somebody else?If the protection of a person's interests is so important should the state permit:a. a...

 Should the state permit:a person to harm him- or herself? a person to consent to be harmed by somebody else?

If the protection of a person's interests is so important should the state permit:
a. a person to harm him- or herself?
b. a person to consent to be harmed by somebody else?

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Of course, this is simply an opinion...  I am assuming you mean actual bodily harm, like cutting yourself.  I assume that, for the second part, you don't mean things like S&M that presumably hurt for a bit but are not serious.

I do not think that the government should have the right to prevent a person from hurting him or her self.  The only way I can see banning that is on the idea that people who harm themselves may end up costing the rest of us more in health care costs.  However, that doesn't fly with me until the government prevents the drinking of alcohol or prevents overeating -- both of which are done more or less voluntarily and can cost others.

As for consenting to be harmed by someone else, I think that should be banned.  I think there is too much room for one person to coerce another in some way.

bullgatortail eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think government and policing authorities already are way too involved with many individual personal freedoms that should remain private behind closed doors. The big difference is whether a person's actions begins to infringe upon the safety of others; if and when it does, then some sort of action should be taken. As one previous post mentioned, there is a big difference between smoking cigarettes and risking lung cancer and threatening to commit suicide in a public place. I'm afraid that in our society, if a person wants to willingly hurt themselves, mental instability must be considered a possible issue, and various agencies are bound to become involved if so.

besure77 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It depends on how the person is harming themselves. If it is going to kill or seriously injure them then I think the state should be able to step in. Obviously this person has some mental issues and help is required.

Regarding people who are "cutters" for example I believe that they need some sort of help as well. When people do these kinds of things they are not only harming themselves but hurting the people who love them as well.

In addition, allowing someone else to hurt you is placing the other person at risk for breaking the law and getting in trouble. There is something wrong with a person who willingly hurts another individual.

brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There's a huge difference between smoking and fatty foods - which are harmful - and suicide or other action that actually endangers your life.  The idea that suicide is illegal, while it seems impossible to enforce on the surface, also allows law enforcement to take into custody someone who may need mental help.  While they may wantto harm themselves in the short term because of their condition, help is available and they are likely glad later when a suicide is prevented.  This is an example of the government promoting public and personal safety.

ako6777 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This question takes a lot of consideration.  I think people who are in the late stages of dying should be allowed the dignity of choosing how they die.  I think their should be a process they go through that evaluates their situation and mental state. If their death is going to be painful and they were in their right mind I think they should have the choice. 

The people who will be doing the actual euthenasia should be trained and certified in some way, so that not anyone off the street can kill. Allowing anybody to do this is asking for trouble.

ask996 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Let’s face it--in a perfect world, regular citizens would police themselves and not engage in behaviors that are harmful to themselves or others. These behaviors frequently infringe on the rights of others--second hand smoke, drunk driving, and etc. Until we as a society get better at policing ourselves, don’t be surprised if the government becomes more and more restrictive.

lrwilliams eNotes educator| Certified Educator

We need to be careful that we are not moving towards a society that has boxed its citizens into a corner with too many laws. I agree that there should be protections in place for those that are incapable of making appropriate decisions for themselves in regards for their own safety, I just think we need to be careful about creating "laws" to cover every situation. 

krishna-agrawala | Student

We don't need laws to make people do everything that is good and desirable, and to prevent people from doing everything that is bad  and undesirable.

In people are expected to do what is good for them. But there are situation where this does not happen that automatically and that widely. Laws are required only in such cases.

People do in general do not want harm themselves purposely or even give consent to others to harm them. Yet people do get harmed by their own actions or by actions of others authorised by them. Such harm results not because of their freedom to decide and act, but their inability to decide and act appropriately. Therefor this problem cannot be solved by enacting laws.

However it should be noted that there are some provision of law which try to protect individuals from their own wrong decisions. For example, in most of the countries suicide is illegal. Similarly, contract acts in most of the countries hold a contract invalid unless the contract provides for consideration for all the contracting parties.

adams02 | Student

I need opinions, this is mine----Smoking is with out a doubt harmful to the health of oneself, but is this what the state could consider harm to him or herself and should therefore step in to protect a persons interests? Does the person really want to be smoking or are they so addicted that could be deemed unable to protect their own interests? If the state prohibited tobacco and the sale of tobacco products all together would that be ok with me? Sure, I don't smoke. If I did, I would feel differently. The state would seem to be making choices for us as opposed to protecting our interests. My point of view- A person should have the choice to harm him or herself in certain situations. However when it comes down to situations that we as a society can collectively deem a person incapable of protecting their own interests i.e. attempting to commit suicide because they are mentally ill, then the state is needed as a means of protection from oneself. Almost on a moral level.

Should the state permit a person to consent to be harmed by somebody else? At what point are we unable to make our own choices. Personal choices. Aren't all choices, personal choices? My point of view for part b of the question holds the same values as it does for part a. The case in the text about the man consenting to be killed and eaten would be a situation that we as a society can collectively deem a person incapable of protecting their own interests. This guy was obviously mentally ill. Actually they both were. This is a situation in which the state is need as a means of protection from oneself......on a moral level.