4. Explain and critically assess Kant’s argument that one has a duty to preserve one’s own life.
As rational beings Kant believes we have a categorical duty of self-preservation to not wilfully take our own lives. Kant talks in depth about duty and believes we should act out of respect for the moral law. The will is the only inherent good, as we are only motivated by duty and nothing else. We should act only out of demands of the law, not from inclination, desires or to achieve a particular goal. Duty dictates we should never act or will something if we do not want it to become a universal law. Kant was against any form of suicide. He strongly believed that: in taking a life you treat humanity merely as a means to an end. Kant wouldn’t be interested in the suffering or pain caused to even a person who was terminally ill and wanted to end their life, nor would he take into consideration the family/friends suffering. In this essay I will be arguing that if we follow the categorical imperative it is immoral to sacrifice a life because it involves treating humanity merely as a means to an end. I will examine John Hardwig’s counter argument that we should end our own lives if more pain and suffering is caused by prolonging it/living it even if we are no longer a rational being.
We must understand that Kant is saying; if I make a maxium e.g. – ‘if I am in unbearable suffering, I should take my own life’ – it must meet the universal law and be applied to everyone. Kant believes we ought to preserve our own lives because it is our moral duty (it is necessary and universal). John Hardwig however, would argue we also have the right to end our lives. Kant would dismiss this because ultimately humans are the bearers of rational life (e.g. it is too sacred to sacrifice).
Suicide fails Kant’s Categorical Imperative on the following grounds:
It seeks to shorten a life that promises more troubles than please, this would be killing yourself out of...
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