Does one's life belong to oneself?

Just a philosophical reflection. No malice intended.

Does one’s life belong to oneself?
Does my life belong to me?

Is it immoral or illegal to have an accident?

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I think the answer to the question changes over the course of your life IMO, when you’re young you think ‘it’s my life I’ll do what I want’, you get married and have kids so staying alive to protect and support them is paramount, at the end of your life staying alive either loses it’s appeal or spurs you on to recapture your youth again.

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Thanks for your reply Timothy -it’s interesting

This is a very interesting question, with many different answers, depending on circumstances and point of view.
The easy answer is that all life belongs to God. “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away…”
But I have often wondered why it is that so few religious people are pacifists and I have never had a satisfactory answer.
Looking at it from a practical point of view, our chances of survival are greater if we are part of a tribe or society. So we make a bargain to give up certain freedoms in exchange for the advantages that can provide. As part of a social group, we will probably live longer and our genes will have a better chance of surviving in future generations. But we then have to obey the rules and suffer the punishment for transgression and accept certain obligations. In many societies this could mean capital punishment and conscription into the military. In those extreme cases your life will no longer belong to you.
A question much argued about is whether suicide is ever justified. Whatever may be our religious or political views, there is very little to stop a person from killing themselves if they are averagely intelligent and in good health, but most people won’t want to do that if they are reasonably happy or are optimistic about the future. A difficulty arises when an unfortunate person is so sick or disabled that they are no longer physically capable of killing themselves. These days, in countries where there is good medical care, a patient with a terminal illness and little time to live, will be given increasing doses of morphine to keep them out of pain until it kills them or some vital organ fails. But what are we to do when a person is so physically damaged that, in the view of the majority of people, they have no “quality of life” but are not expected to die from natural causes in the near future. It can be argued that he has every right to choose to die, but it may not be right for him to ask someone else to kill him.
These are questions that society still struggles with.
From a personal point of view, I have difficulty with the thought that I am able to make a humane and merciful decision on behalf of my dog, but others may not do the same for me, should the time come.
So you have asked a difficult question and there is no one right answer. I think you will have to decide for yourself.

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Now there’s a point of view that will stir the hornet’s nest

For the record I disagree, vehemently :slight_smile:

Certainly it can be illegal if brought about through the (ab) use of alcohol or drugs.

Whether immoral or not is harder (and is likely to depend on circumstances).

Hi Paul and thanks for your reply, I’m not sure i understand your answer. An accident by definition is surely involuntary ‘an accident’. IMO, it can’t be illegal to have an accident. However, it can be both immoral and illegal not to pay the consequences of an accident if someone is responsible.

I didn’t even attempt to answer that one!
An accident, by definition, is unintended and therefore morality doesn’t come into it.
But certain activities involve a high degree of risk.
I have argued elsewhere that humans are risk-taking animals and each one of us has a personal “risk threshold.” The safer the world becomes, the more risks we like to take. When we make cars safer, drivers become more careless. People get a thrill from dangerous sports and activities, but thren they expect the health service will patch them up when things go wrong.
Maybe, as with motoring, some high risk activities should require compulsory insurance. Does a person have the right to risk falling off a mountain or a horse at the expense of the rest of us?
What do you think?

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You need some discussions with heath and safety types (they are not all wastes of space, though some are).

While “accidents” are unplanned, an accident is an event which has antecedent events - often, with hindsight, you can see that the “accident” was inevitable and by putting measures in place to prevent the antecedent events happening you can prevent future “accidents” of a similar nature.

As to illegal and immoral - if I drink 6 pints of Leffe get in a car and kill someone then the “accident” is very clearly illegal (and probably immoral to boot).


Yes, but recklessness can come into culpability, even if the “accident” was unplanned.

To be honest I can see why many prefer the term “incident” to “accident”.


Thanks Mike. Another interesting view.

This set me thinking of a sentence in an article in the Guardian yesterday.
A void-sized grey area in government guidance … means that, when we do suffer a second wave, the government can just pull out a photograph of me legally sunbathing in a park and say, “it’s his fault".

The UK police now refer to Road Traffic Collisions rather than Road Traffic Accidents because with an accident there can ,sometimes at least, be no one to blame but in a road incident there is always something / someone at fault even if it isn’t criminal

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Hi Mike,
IMO, anyone and everyone has the right to take risks involving their own lives as long as they pay for any consequences involving their health. Noone should have to pay for another person’s recovery from an extremely dangerous sport , hobby or leisure activity. Just my opinion.


More than likely. Sloping shoulders are much in evidence here.
Following the medical evidence is not true, they listen and then put their political spin on it and think we won’t notice.
How can you take seriously a PM who disregarded the medical evidence and went on shaklng hands and then nearly died. He probably infected Matt Hancock too.

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So we disband mountain rescue, the Coastguard and the RNLI.

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We are all in it together, we all pay taxes, we all contribute to health insurance, some will indulge in dangerous pursuits, some won’t- so where do you draw the line anyway? Skiing? SCUBA diving? Parachuting? Smoking? Overeating? Dyeing your hair? Driving? Childbirth?


There is a beautiful unwritten law of the sea. Mariners will always go to the aid of people in trouble without making any moral judgement.
Nobody ever says “Bloody fools, they brought it on themselves, they deserve to die!”


I liked the comment,but from my perspective of ,if you put yourself in danger fair enough but you are not entitled to put other people in danger, without consequences I liken it to C19. If you want to take chances carry on but your chances shouldn’t put me at risk who has been careful


True, but maybe some of us should get a No Claims Bonus!


Hi Fleur and many thanks for your reply. It would be extremely worrying if no more than a photo of you sunbathing in a park could be used as ‘legal’ proof you are responsible for a second wave of contamination. Worrying and frightening even! They would have to prove that at the time of the photo you were carrying the virus and that you had actively gone out of your way to pass the contagion to someone. If we’ve got to the stage where legal evidence is no longer necessary to prove criminal intent we could accuse anyone of anything and condemn them for it. Do you know that Monty Python ‘witch’ sketch from the film the ‘Holy Grail’?