Depression and Suicide are Natural Kinds: Implications for Physician-Assisted Suicide

International Journal of Law and Psychiatry 36 (5-6):461-470 (2013)
  Copy   BIBTEX


In this article, I argue that depression and suicide are natural kinds insofar as they are classes of abnormal behavior underwritten by sets of stable biological mechanisms. In particular, depression and suicide are neurobiological kinds characterized by disturbances in serotonin functioning that affect various brain areas (i.e., the amygdala, anterior cingulate, prefrontal cortex, and hippocampus). The significance of this argument is that the natural (biological) basis of depression and suicide allows for reliable projectable inferences (i.e., predictions) to be made about individual members of a kind. In the context of assisted suicide, inferences about the decision-making capacity of depressed individuals seeking physician-assisted suicide are of special interest. I examine evidence that depression can hamper the decision-making capacity of individuals seeking assisted suicide and discuss some implications.



External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Depression in the Context of Disability and the “Right to Die”.Carol J. Gill - 2004 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 25 (3):171-198.
Conscience, Referral, and Physician Assisted Suicide.Kevin WM Wildes - 1993 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 18 (3):323-328.
Does Physician Assisted Suicide Violate the Integrity of Medicine?Richard Momeyer - 1995 - Journal of Medicine and Philosophy 20 (1):13-24.


Added to PP

370 (#29,658)

6 months
55 (#16,213)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Author's Profile

Jonathan Y. Tsou
University of Texas at Dallas

Citations of this work

Philosophy of Psychiatry.Jonathan Y. Tsou - 2021 - Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Depression as a Disorder of Consciousness.Cecily Whiteley - forthcoming - British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.
The Kindness of Psychopaths.Zdenka Brzović, Marko Jurjako & Predrag Šustar - 2017 - International Studies in the Philosophy of Science 31 (2):189-211.

View all 18 citations / Add more citations

References found in this work

Health as a Theoretical Concept.Christopher Boorse - 1977 - Philosophy of Science 44 (4):542-573.
Intervention, Causal Reasoning, and the Neurobiology of Mental Disorders: Pharmacological Drugs as Experimental Instruments.Jonathan Y. Tsou - 2012 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences 43 (2):542-551.

Add more references