Kant's View On Suicide

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Rachel Douglass Introduction Is there ever a situation in which committing suicide is moral? According to Hume the short answer is yes. According to those who agree with Kantian ethics, however, would say that it is always immoral to commit suicide. In this paper, I will argue that Kant’s view on this is more valid than Hume’s view. Background Kantian ethics are based around the idea of duty (Velleman 19). Kant believes that everyone has a duty to act morally and do the right thing. What Kant means by duty is simply a practical requirement (Velleman 19). For example, we have a duty or practical requirement to tell the truth. According to David Velleman, Kant believes there is a force for moral requirements that is independent from God,…show more content…
The better we can rationalize our emotions, the more likely we are to choose moral actions. Hume believes that religion or the belief in God does not contribute to helping humans become better at rationalizing emotions, therefore, it is not rational, according to Hume (Hume). Since Hume does not believe in God, the first wrongdoing to be considered with suicide can be ruled out, that is, our duty to God (Hume). If God does not exist, then God can’t be wronged. The next issue Hume poses is transgression against our neighbor. According to Hume, someone who commits suicide does no wrong to society because by death, he or she only stops being beneficial (Hume). The last misbehavior that Hume addresses is that by committing suicide, a person harms his or herself. Hume attempts to get around this by saying that someone who chooses to commit suicide only stops the possibility of living a miserable life…show more content…
You cannot will two opposing things at once for all of humanity at any time. C5. Therefore, suicide cannot be moral. (1, 2, 3, 4) If someone were to commit suicide to keep from future misery, then that person would be killing and extinguishing his life so as to save himself (Thomas). This is not possible as it is a contradiction. In Kant’s view, categorical imperatives, such as killing, are moral only if one could will the whole population to make the same decision. With this, we run into problems. I can’t will the whole population to love themselves and also kill themselves just as I can’t will the whole population to both lie and not lie at the same time (Velleman 44). One of the situations has to be immoral. Objection/Reply Someone who agrees with Hume might object to this argument by saying morality is not based solely on what is rational because people have feelings. He or she may say that people have feelings and are subjective, not objective (Hume). This means that we can’t base our moral code off of what an individual can will universally because that isn’t concrete if everyone has different opinions on what they can and can’t will. Things are also situational, so, even though you can’t will everyone to lie, you could possibly will everyone to lie for a good cause (Hume). An example of this could be justification for someone who steals bread for his starving family so they don’t
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