Minimally Intentional Suicide and “The Falling Man”
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On September 11, 2001, Richard Drew of the Associated Press photographed a man, probably an employee or food service contractor from Windows on the World in the North Tower of the World Trade Center (WTC), falling to his death when the flames from the crash of American Airlines Flight 11 were inescapable. The most famous image from the sequence was dubbed The Falling Man.1 If we assume that the Falling Man chose to fall, that he jumped, R. G. Frey would say he died a suicide, as Socrates did in ancient Athens, but that this judgment is not to the Falling Man’s discredit. “…[T]he fact that Socrates died a noble and dignified death does not show that he did not commit suicide, but rather that suicide need not be ignoble and undignified.”2
Here I will argue that Frey’s description in the premises (noble, dignified) could be correct, but not his conclusion. Neither the Falling Man nor arguably even Socrates committed suicide.
Richard Drew took ten to fifteen...
KeywordsWorld Trade Political Violence World Trade Center Intentional Suicide Death Camp
I am grateful for feedback from participants in the R. G. Frey memorial colloquium, Bowling Green State University, April 2013; Ethics Group 2, Pittsburgh Area Philosophy Colloquium, Washington and Jefferson College, September 2013; the First Friday Forum, Saint Vincent College, February 2014; and a session of the Eastern Pennsylvania Philosophy Association, Misericordia University, April 2014. Special thanks to Assya Pascalev, Mary Beth Willard, Stephen Sullivan, Shoshana Brassfield, Michael P. Krom, Jason Jividen, Thomas Hart O.S.B., and Lissa Skitolsky.