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Objections to Velleman on Suicide

We can construct an animal that doesn’t matter but whose good matters (McMahan, 2002 p. 275).

\subsection{Objection 1}
Velleman’s first premise is that a person’s good matters only insofar as she, the person, matters.
Objection: We can construct an animal that doesn’t matter but whose good matters (McMahan, 2002 p. 275).
The animal’s ‘mind is so simple that it altogether lacks either synchronic or diachronic psychological unity. That is a reasonable basis for claiming that the creature, as an individual, does not matter at all. It is, as Singer would say, replaceable without loss by another creature of its sort whose experiences would be equally good. But [...] it seems wrong to suppose that the sequence of the creature’s mental states cannot matter at all. It matters impersonally whether, for example, the creature’s experiences are pleasurable or painful’ \citep[pp.~475--6]{mcmahan:2002_ethics}.

‘to respect a person is to show appropriate acknowledgment that his good is important in the same way that any other person’s is, and to defer to his autonomous will in certain matters, principally those concerning how his own life should go’

‘[...] we honor or show appropriate respect for the person’s worth precisely by ministering to his good, provided that this is also what he autonomously wills, even when what is required by a concern for his good is that his life should be ended’ \citep[p.~482]{mcmahan:2002_ethics}.
Note that McMahan sometimes misconstrues what is at issue in his argument with Velleman. For instance, in summarising the issue he puts his position as the view that ‘[t]here is simply no sense in which a person’s worth is upheld or affirmed by his mere persistence through suffering’ \citep[p.~482]{mcmahan:2002_ethics}. But this is something Velleman could also accept.

A person’s good matters only insofar as she, the person, has value.

A person’s right to shorten her life would be a right to destroy her value.


Preventing a person from exercising such a right would not be intrinsically wrong.


No such right exists.

Velleman, 1999; 2008

This is what the objection targets.
Is the objection decisive, or can Velleman’s argument be saved?.
I think the objection requires modification rather than abandoning Velleman’s argument. ‘Whether or not it is true quite generally that an individual’s good cannot matter unless the individual matters, it is reasonable to believe that persons do matter, that they have a value in themselves that is independent of their good’ \citep[p.~476]{mcmahan:2002_ethics}
How is this a potential objection?
I interpret McMahan as challenging the idea that Velleman’s conclusion is an objection to the idea that it’s ok for a person to shorten her life for her own good. But I am very unsure. I don’t think I properly understand the objection (and quite possibily not Velleman’s view either!)