Kant on euthanasia and the duty to die: clearing the air

Journal of Medical Ethics 41 (8):607-610 (2015)
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Abstract

Thanks to recent scholarship, Kant is no longer seen as the dogmatic opponent of suicide he appears at first glance. However, some interpreters have recently argued for a Kantian view of the morality of suicide with surprising, even radical, implications. More specifically, they have argued that Kantianism requires that those with dementia or other rationality-eroding conditions end their lives before their condition results in their loss of identity as moral agents, and requires subjecting the fully demented or those confronting future dementia to non-voluntary euthanasia. Properly understood, Kant’s ethics has neither of these implications. wrongly assumes that rational agents’ duty of self-preservation entails a duty of self-destruction when they become non-rational. further neglects Kant’s distinction between duties to self and duties to others and wrongly assumes that duties can be owed to rational agents only during the time of their existence.

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Author's Profile

Michael Cholbi
University of Edinburgh

References found in this work

Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals.Immanuel Kant - 1785 - New Haven: Oxford University Press.
A Kantian Moral Duty for the Soon-to-Be Demented to Commit Suicide.Dennis R. Cooley - 2007 - American Journal of Bioethics 7 (6):37 – 44.
Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals.Sasha Mudd - 2014 - International Journal of Philosophical Studies 22 (2):281-286.
Kant and the Irrationality of Suicide.Michael Cholbi - 2000 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 17 (2):159-176.

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