This is not a political post. I am just asking a legal question. If I can alienate control of my body by allowing someone to kill me then why can't I allow myself to be enslaved? What is the legal distinction? Since slavery is just giving up control or allowing force against a body isnt that the same?

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    You're alienating your body to someone else's control every time you get in a vehicle driven or flown by someone else, get anaesthetised for surgery, go to the higher floors of a building, enter a secure area where you are locked in... This question is nonsense in respect of creating a false equivalence and then arguing that this is somehow relevant to legality. – Nij Jun 14 at 6:46

You don't cede control

You can't "alienate control of your body" - for example, a provision "Bob is allowed to kill me if certain conditions apply" would not be a legal contract. In euthanasia, where it's legal (and in most places it's not) you don't cede control or decisions. If you agree to assisted euthanasia, you just have someone else execute your decisions, they don't gain the power or right to make any decisions that they didn't already have.

The key difference from "allowing you to be enslaved" is that this implies that your current decision binds your future decisions. In euthanasia, if you'd "allow yourself to be killed" next friday, and changed your mind before that, then still proceeding with the act would be illegal, that would be murder. In a similar manner, a form of "slavery" where the slave is free to change their mind and go away as soon as they desire would be legal. It's comparable to e.g. BDSM practices where someone consents to pain, sexual acts, humiliation and control - that's legal if (and while!) the consent continues, but there's no legal way to irrevocably bind yourself to that consent.

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  • Aren't Ulysses contracts legal though – user31975 Jun 14 at 19:56
  • How about this: can monetary penalties apply if I dont let myself be enslaved? – user31975 Jun 14 at 19:59
  • @user31975 that might be an interesting hypothetical possibility (depending on all the other aspects of the contract), however note that in that case monetary penalties would apply after refusing to be enslaved, they couldn't be a precondition to being able to do so (since that's an inalienable right) - i.e. if you can't pay the monetary penalty, the "owner" would be left with just a bunch of hard-or-impossible-to-collect debt, at worst such penalties might push you into bankruptcy. – Peteris Jun 14 at 20:12
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    This answer looks incorrect to me. The Dutch Supreme Court (one of the jurisdictions where euthanasia is legal) has ruled that "My doctor is allowed to kill me if I my Alzheimer's progresses to a point where X,Y,Z" is in fact a legal basis for euthanasia. They acknowledge that you are definitely ceding control, precisely because Alzheimer makes the person lose control anyway, and that loss is irreversible. – MSalters Jun 15 at 13:29
  • @MSalters this is the regarding the scenario where the patient is legally incapable of making decisions at that point - if they would be in control at that point, then that statement would not be sufficient and they could withdraw it. Regarding details of euthanasia, I was thinking of the cases where the patients are of a sound mind, but physically can't kill themselves without assistance. This case of euthanasia is more in line of "do not resuscitate" directives, but not equivalent to actually ceding control like e.g. a statement "My wife is allowed to kill me on the next new year's eve". – Peteris Jun 15 at 13:37

What is the legal distinction? Since slavery is just giving up control or allowing force against a body isnt that the same?

Once enslaved, you will still be alive and therefore might change your mind, but you won't have the legal freedom to go back. This is a problem as, in a free society, you ought to have the ability to.

In case of euthanasia you will be dead and not able to change your mind to go back to life, hence the above problem does not exist.

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