Immanuel Kant Beliefs on Suicide
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Immanuel Kant believes that suicide is morally wrong, we have a perfect duty to restrain from suicide. A perfect duty is a negative in that we are obligated to never perform those types of actions, no matter what the circumstances are. The opposite of perfect duty is Imperfect duties. Imperfect duties require us sometimes to perform certain types of action, that will not conflict with out perfect duties. You must ignore your emotions or desires to act on something, and your reasoning for your actions must be based on whether it is your duty or not. You are only a morally worthy person if your motivation to do something is because it is your duty and you would do it no matter what. There are two basic formulations of the categorical imperative in which Kant uses to explain why suicide is wrong. Categorical imperatives are commands which apply to everyone, unconditionally. The first formulation requires you to question yourself whether your action would establish its maxim as a universal law. This means you may not do anything that you wouldn’t allow someone else to do, no exceptions allowed. So if you commit suicide then you are saying that everyone should do so when they are in a similar situation. This ties to the second formulation, basically a person cannot treat themselves or another person as a means to an end but rather must seek and end that is equal for all people. So universally people would feel right to commit suicide and eventually it could be the end of the world. Suicide cannot be a universal duty; therefore, it is not good to act on. Kant does not support suicide, and says that any who even attempts to do so is less than other human beings.

When it comes to John Stuart Mill and his thoughts on suicide, it is basically the opposite of what Kant believes in. Mill believes that we can live as we want, with a few exceptions, but we can also die when we want as well. You should not have a say in someone else’s decisions and no one should have a say in yours, everyone should do what benefits them. This does not apply when your actions are hurting someone else. When you commit suicide, you are doing whatever you want with your body and you have that right, this action does not physically harm others. He believes that this is a decision that each individual has the right to make on their own. A lot of people will argue, including me, that people will in fact be affected if you decide to kill yourself but Mill says that yes everything you do can be seen to affect other but there is a limit to it. You cannot stop someone because you simply disagree with their actions, they have a right to do as they wish. Mill argues that whether that person’s decision is right or wrong, each one of us has the right to make our own decisions as long as it is not significantly hurting others. So Mill’s view is pretty clear after this summary, he argues that if an individual wants to commit suicide, and it is not physically or significantly hurting someone else, then they have the right to do so. Utilitarianism is what I consider pleasure, and the absence of pain. Another name for utility is “the Greatest Happiness Principle.” If your actions will lead to the greatest level of general happiness then they are considered good, but they are bad if they decrease the level of happiness. Unlike Kant, Mill wants you to look at the consequences over your reasoning of your actions. Your actions must bring out the greatest level happiness to be good. The problem is in utilitarianism they would view suicide as wrong, if those left after you are suffering, so it can only be a good thing only if you are disconnected from humanity and no one is hurt in the process.

William Paley looks at suicide similarly to the previous section I just discussed, the utilitarian philosophy. The difference there is that William Paley in a way contradicts what argues for suicide. Paley believes that if the society and you are suffering from your existence, or if you are disconnected from humanity and it would not matter if you were alive or not, then in order to stop the suffering committing suicide is okay. The problem arises when he then mentions that no one can determine their value to society, he actually says that it is impossible. Paley says that suicide could be a good option when the pain to are causing to another is worse than the pain your death could ever cause. Then he contradicts this statement as well, by saying that you cannot actually determine how much pain that person would be in after you died. So it seems to be that Paley does not believe that you could ever have a real reason to commit suicide, because you cannot determine how much you mean in society, or how much pain one would be if they lost you forever. Paley really believes that we can know the will of God through scripture and the “light of nature”, so when you are deciding whether to commit suicide or not, then you must turn to these to determine the will of God. So whether your actions are right, or wrong all depends on the will of God. God’s will and wishes are for his human creatures to have happiness, but he determines what those are to make you happy. Through nature we are able to know what is good for us and what God will agree with. Suicide is not something that God would wish upon his creatures, unless it brought happiness, which you cannot really determine how much happiness or sorrow that would bring to society, so it is not permissible.

Suicide is a subject hard to talk about, it is emotional and heartbreaking. I feel like is it becoming more common and if you ever knew anyone personally that committed suicide then you are completely against the idea. I have not had to experience any of my loved one committing suicide, thank god, and I pray that no one ever does such a thing. I believe committing suicide is a very selfish thing to do, and it is taking the easy way out. I do not mean this is a rude or bad way at all, it is selfish in the way that you are leaving your loved ones to deal with the aftermath for the rest of their lives. Whoever finds you, whether it be a loved one or stranger, eventually someone will have to identify your body and that cannot be an easy thing to do. All that pain and stuffing you felt so bad that you had to just escape and the only way you thought to do so was suicide, is probably the pain all of your loved ones are experiencing now. At the end, it is not fair to just walk away, you have to open your eyes. Sometimes we do not see things the right way, our society over the past years has only become to weak minded. We now have all these mental diseases

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John Stuart Mill And William Paley. (April 2, 2021). Retrieved from