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Philosophy Professor Makes Presentation at Bowling Green

Public Relations
Posted: Wednesday Apr 10, 2013

April 10, 2013

Dr. Gene Torisky, associate professor of philosophy in the Saint Vincent College department of philosophy, part of the school of humanities and fine arts, gave an invited presentation entitled, Frey on Suicide, at a memorial tribute to R. G. Frey (1941-2012), professor of philosophy at Bowling Green State University on April 6.

“R. G. Frey was an internationally known utilitarian theorist who taught in the Ph.D. program at BGSU for decades,” Dr. Torisky commented. “He also served on my doctoral dissertation committee. At this colloquium, 12 former advisees presented posters on Frey’s and their own work to an audience of current BGSU philosophy faculty and graduate students, then shared their personal and professional remembrances of their mentor.”

“In several articles published over 20 years, Frey argued that suicide may be defined very simply as intentional (knowing and willing) self-killing,” Torisky continued. “Reasons that are often given to excuse individual cases – she was sacrificing herself for others, he had no real choice – are rejected, and Frey maintains that the circumstances of the death of the ancient philosopher Socrates should lead us to describe him as a deliberate suicide too. Frey concludes that the case of Socrates proves that suicide need not be ignoble or undignified.”

In his poster presentation, Torisky provided a systematic critique of Frey’s position on Socrates, focusing on a weakness in Frey’s consequentialist definition of intention. He then applied the same analysis to people who jumped to their deaths from the World Trade Centers on September 11, 2001, concluding that while Frey is correct that suicide has a harmful amount of stigma attached to it, it is mistaken to call the deaths of the 9/11 jumpers suicides.

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