Is There No Moral Law? | Douglas Farrow | First Things

by Douglas Farrow
6 . 18 . 16
The weak and ill constituted shall perish: the first principle of our philanthropy. And one shall help them to do so.
– Nietzsche, The Antichrist

The National Post reports that, in the first year or so of Quebec’s assisted suicide regime, approximately a hundred people have already been “helped to die,” at least two of them in the McGill University Health Centre conglomerate. I am distressed by this extension of immoral killing, even at my own university. (I say “extension” because abortions are also carried out within the MUHC. I say “immoral” for reasons I will try to clarify.) No one will maintain, by the way, that none of these people could have been helped by proper palliative care. Almost certainly, every one of them could have been. But that is rapidly becoming irrelevant, for suicide and euthanasia are increasingly deemed to be acceptable responses to suffering.

Acceptable by what moral standard? It is time we admitted that, when we set up such regimes, we affirm either that there is no moral law or that the moral law does not forbid suicide and euthanasia. The only other alternative is to say that it belongs to the state to act outside the moral law.

Who will try to defend the first of these options? And why, if there is no moral law, ought we to listen to him? Why ought we to do anything? No, the first option is self-defeating and altogether dehumanizing.

As for the third, it is really just a variant of the first. For if the state operates outside the moral law, it belongs to a different universe than that of its citizens, which is absurd. Besides, there is no state in the abstract. Every action of the state is determined and carried out by citizens who are by nature subject to the moral law. And because the moral law limits or directs citizens, it limits or directs the state also. From this it follows (as we insisted at Nuremburg) that citizens must be prepared to defy the state if it requires of them something immoral.

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