When someone dies, the process is (I think), that the county coroner checks into the death, and then issues a death certificate. The certificate lists “Cause of Death”, among other things. (BTW, I have never actually seen a death certificate – I am just eyeballing it – based on what I have heard and what I have seen on TV.)
So what are the most popular answers for “Cause of Death”? Heart-attack, cancer, infection, organ-failure, etc are some common ones. Old-age might be another. Maybe suicide. Then there are all of the different types of homicide: Blunt-trama to the skull, bullet to the head, etc.
In any case, I think that, what the coroner really looks for is just two things: A) the “proximate” cause of death, and B) was it a natural death or suspicious? In this context, the term “proximate” means “the most nearby” cause. The implication is that, for any given effect (like the death of a person), there is often a “chain of causes” which culminate in the final effect. In this case, the final effect is death.
What are some examples of “chain of causes”? Lets look at some hypotheticals. First, the case of lung cancer. So, the death certificate might say that the cause of death is lung cancer. So that is the proximate cause, cancer. Now lets take it back one more step. What caused the cancer? In many cases it would be “carcinogenic chemicals absorbed by the lung tissue.” So what caused that? Maybe smoking. So what caused that? Some people would say it was a free-will choice on the part of the smoker. Other people might say, that, the so-called free-will choice was really due to manipulative advertising on the part of tobacco companies. That, in turn, could be caused by the greed of the CEO. So the full chain of causes was really a Domino-Effect starting from greed:
GREED –> Manipulative Advertising –> Smoking –> Carcinogens –> Cancer –> DEATH.
So, really, the Death Certificate might just as well label “CEO’s Greed” as the person’s cause of death. (Actually, in this scenario, it almost sounds more like a homicide.)
Could an analogous situation also occur with laziness? Imagine this example:
LAZINESS –> Not looking for a job –> No job –> No health insurance –> No prescription plan –> Unprepared for illness –> Illness occurs –> DEATH
(In this case it almost sounds like negligent-suicide.) What are your thoughts?