Fear, sovereignty and the right to die

Journal article


Hardes, J. 2013. Fear, sovereignty and the right to die. Societies. 3, pp. 66-79. https://doi.org/10.3390/soc3010066
AuthorsHardes, J.
Abstract

This paper addresses the “right to die” through the lens of Derrida’s The Beast and the Sovereign, Volume One. Specifically focusing on the case of Tony Nicklinson v. Ministry of Justice, 2012, the essay posits two things. First, Derrida’s insight helps us understand how a “fear of death” is a fundamental performative feature of sovereignty politics. Second, in order to maintain its performative role, sovereignty must perpetuate the belief that “man is wolf to man.” I argue that, in right-to-die cases, this has the effect of precluding compassionate reasons for taking the life of another. Thus, I posit that these two points, in part, explain how right-to-die cases fail on appeal. All is not lost, however, as this essay advances Derrida’s position that these performative workings of sovereignty, which currently preclude the right to die, are entirely deconstructable. As such, exploring how right-to-die cases are articulated in law permits a deconstruction of sovereignty politics and allows us to open up other ways of thinking about the relation between sovereignty, life, death, and our relationships with “others”.

Year2013
JournalSocieties
Journal citation3, pp. 66-79
ISSN2075-4698
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)https://doi.org/10.3390/soc3010066
Publication process dates
Deposited19 May 2015
Accepted05 Jan 2013
Output statusPublished
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