In his second exception, Plato is only making reference to court appointed suicide, again implying an immoral character flaw resulting in an unwanted citizen. Any assistance provided in such a case would need to be represented by the court in order to fall under Platos exceptions.

The only assisted suicide Plato would find acceptable based on his beliefs of suicide in general and on his beliefs regarding medical assistance, would be an assisted suicide for the terminally ill and disabled. Again, however, Platos views on this matter suggest the decision to end the life of such a person would not be in the hands of the ill, but in the views of society in terms of the individuals ability to contribute to moral and social standards. Since the modern view of assisted suicide refers to an individuals choice to end life, such an act would be disapproved of by Plato. Only in cases where society views the individual as a burden, and thus, as an undesirable citizen, would such an assisted suicide be seen as morally acceptable.

To assist an individual who is capable of contributing to society, but is simply unwilling to do so, would be morally reprehensible.

While Platos writings do not specifically discuss assisted suicide in modern terms, it is clear based on his opinions surrounding suicide, morality, and societal needs, that such actions would be morally unacceptable in Platos viewpoint. To cause the death of another in any circumstance other than public contest is punishable by death, and to take ones own life is a shameful and cowardly act. Clearly, to assist someone in committing such a morally reprehensible act would violate Platos view of moral and social consciousness.


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Copper, Michael. “Greek Philosophers on Euthanasia and Suicide.” Suicide and Euthanasia. Ed. B. Brody. Philadelphia: Springer, 1990.

Plato. “Phaedo.” Complete Works. Ed. By John M. Cooper and D. S Hutchinson. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 1997.

Plato. The Laws. New York: Penguin Classics, 1970.

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