Friday, March 30, 2012

[PL 431] Kant on (assisted) suicide

One formulation of Kant's Categorical Imperative is known as the universal law formulation. According to Kant, you should "act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law."

Many have interpreted this formulation of Kant's Categorical Imperative as summarizing a decision procedure for moral reasoning.

Kantian Moral Reasoning
Kant discusses four examples that illustrate this kind of moral reasoning. One of the examples is about suicide. Kant considers the following maxim:
Whenever continuing to live will bring me more pain than pleasure, I shall commit suicide out of self-love.
According to Kant, the maxim of committing suicide to avoid future unhappiness does not pass the third step (the contradiction in conception test) in the decision procedure. So, for Kant, it is morally impermissible to act on the maxim of committing suicide to avoid future unhappiness.

Do you agree with Kant? Does it mean that suicide is always wrong? Do you think that the same kind of Kantian reasoning applies to cases of assisted suicide, like the case of Craig Ewert?

Watch The Suicide Tourist on PBS. See more from FRONTLINE.

No comments:

Post a Comment

This is an academic blog about critical thinking, logic, and philosophy. So please refrain from making insulting, disparaging, and otherwise inappropriate comments. Also, if I publish your comment, that does not mean I agree with it. Thanks for reading and commenting on my blog.