In "Of Suicide," David Hume argues against the dominant Thomistic doctrine on suicide. Thomas Aquinas, in Summa Theologica, I-IL Q64, Art 5, argues that suicide is morally impermissible because it violates three kinds of duties: one's duty to God, to others, and to oneself. Arguing from within the Thomistic framework, Hume exposes the inconsistencies of Aquinas's theory and refutes Aquinas's arguments against suicide. In this paper I look at only the arguments concerning the ways in which suicide violates a duty to God.
My strategy is as follows. First, I argue that G.R. McLean's interpretation of Hume in his paper "Hume and the Theistic Objection to Suicide" is not only philosophically unsound, but also departs significantly from the text of "Of Suicide." I then offer my own interpretation of Hume's arguments in "Of Suicide," which both avoids the problems that McLean's interpretation faces and is closer to the text. Finally, I raise and respond to one possible objection to my interpretation of Hume's argument. Ultimately, I intend to argue that Hume's attack on the Thomistic doctrine on suicide is actually an attack on the broader Thomistic framework, and that to read "Of Suicide" in isolation from Hume's other works leads to error.
Kelahan '05, Emily M., "Hume's Objection to the Thomistic Doctrine on Suicide" (2005). Honors Projects. Paper 5.