Fear, Sovereignty, and the Right to Die
This paper addresses the â€œright to dieâ€ through the lens of Derridaâ€™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, Derridaâ€™s insight helps us understand how a â€œfear of deathâ€ is a fundamental performative feature of sovereignty politics. Second, in order to maintain its performative role, sovereignty must perpetuate the belief that â€œman is wolf to man.â€ 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 Derridaâ€™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 â€œothersâ€ .
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