Death Is An Issue That Everyone Contemplates At Some Point

1086 WordsMay 25, 20175 Pages
Death is an issue that everyone contemplates at some point in their lives. For many, the topic conjures feelings of fear and worry and reminds them of their mortality. Furthermore, the issue of death brings up a multitude of ethical questions. What is death? Is it ever permissible to kill one 's self or another human being? What constitutes a good life? And perhaps chief among them: Is death always bad? Thinkers of all stripes have struggled with this question and attempted to provide answers. Two people who have explored this question are Simon Blackburn and Martin McDonagh. The former in his book Being Good and the latter in his play The Pillowman. In his play, McDonagh packs his prose with moral questions and ethical dilemmas. The…show more content…
A person who dies is denied the possibility of fulfilling their future desires which, for Blackburn, constitutes a loss. Conversely, those that have never existed do not have a desire of which they can be deprived. For Blackburn, these points underscore that non-existence after death is bad and is distinct from non-existence before birth. That said, Blackburn also says, “But then what about desired death, such as suicide or euthanasia”(Blackburn, 71). In this quote, Blackburn hints at the issue of terminal illness and concedes there are circumstances where death is not necessarily a bad option. Blackburn argues that a terminal illness that entails considerable suffering, eliminates any positive future possibilities, and only delays death is a scenario where choosing death over life can be justified ethically. He further argues that a doctor helping a terminally ill patient take their own life has not necessarily committed a bad deed and is perhaps even showing them mercy because they are reducing their patients suffering (Blackburn, 72). We should keep the nuances of Blackburn 's argument in mind when doing our analysis. Now that Blackburn 's ethical stance on the badness of death has been established, we can begin our analysis of McDonagh 's The Pillowman. In his play, Mcdonagh 's main character, Katurian, tells the story of the Pillowman. He is a man whose job it is to seek out adults ready to commit
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