Essay Preview: Immanuel Kant
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Introduction to Philosophy
Immanuel Kant believes that suicide is morally wrong. One of Kant’s arguments for his
view on suicide being morally wrong is that man is God’s property, ergo has absolutely no right
to end his own life. Immanuel Kant also argues that we have a higher duty to ourselves, and if a
man commits suicide, he can no longer achieve moral acts, for he has rooted out away any new
moral act on his path. Kant also believes that when a man commits suicide, he becomes no less
than beast and should be treated as one (in cases when the person survives the suicide attempt).
Immanuel Kant’s Categorical Imperative is unconditional, and must be fulfilled no matter the
circumstances. ‘Act only according to that maxim whereby you can, at the same time will that it
should become a universal law’. In the case of suicide when one decides to or commits suicide in
an awful situation due to the motivation of self-love (to avoid/end suffering), this then would be
applied as a universal law to see if it is permissible and coherent. The universal law will then be
that EVERYONE can and must commit suicide in an awful life circumstance due to the
motivation of self-love. This is definitely not coherent and permissible because it is almost
impossible to will that into a universal law.
I believe John Stuart Mill will be fully against suicide, and would say that it is inappropriate
and wrong. Based on his Utilitarianism theory, an action is only right and appropriate as long as
it brings happiness to people, and causes a greater good for the majority. If someone commits
suicide, and it causes harm to others, emotionally or physically, then it is wrong, but if this same
person commits suicide, and no one is hurt or caused any kind of pain, then it is right. It is very
rare that someone commits suicide without causing pain to people, so overall, John Stuart Mill is
Paley’s nature of light is basically God’s will for our lives which is for us to be happy. To
come to the happiness, one must act towards the promotion of general happiness, which is
similar to Mill’s utilitarianism. The rule expects that God wishes happiness upon his creature,
and the actions that leads to happiness must be agreeable by God. It is a theory of reason and
religion. If a person decides to commit suicide, it isn’t a thing for happiness for those close to the
person. Also, Paley doesn’t believe that we measure the level of sorrow as humans, which brings
us to the conclusion that he would be against suicide.
Suicide is morally wrong and could be seen as selfish especially when the person who has
committed suicide has a lot of loved ones and people who care a lot about them. It leaves them
heartbroken and mentally scarred sometimes. In Diane’s situation in one of the blogs we had on
this class, it could be acceptable given the fact that she was in serious pain and had only a 25%
survival chance. In that situation, if she has loved ones and they don’t want her to take her life
after so much suffering, they could be seen as the selfish people because they can’t feel her pain,
yet they want her to stay because they don’t want to lose her. As a Christian, I am conflicted
because I am sitting on the fence. Sometimes it could be selfish, and sometimes, it’s to take the
pain away faster (in situations when your going to definitely die painfully from an illness).
Question 1: Do we (you and I) have a moral obligation not to take God’s name in vain?
In the commentary section on Paley, it says “An action X is morally right, wrong or
indifferent depending on whether a relevant deity (god) commands or does not command that
people do X” Since Paley believes in this, that means that since “thou shall not take the name of
the Lord your God in vain” is a commandment from God, that makes it moral, therefore making
us obligated not to take the name of God in vain.
Although Kant was a logical man who didn’t believe that we had to follow a religion blindly
without logic in it, but if we are to use his deontological approach, the question will be ‘does
obeying the rule fulfil your moral need?’ if it does, then you have an obligation not to take the
name if the lord in vain, and if it doesn’t, you have no obligation to not take the name of God in