A Kantian moral duty for the soon-to-be demented to commit suicide

American Journal of Bioethics 7 (6):37 – 44 (2007)

Abstract

It has been argued that, on Kantian grounds, pedophiles, rapists and murderers are morally obligated to take their own lives prior to committing a violent action that will end their moral agency. That is, to avoid destroying the agent's moral life by performing a morally suicidal action, the agent, while he still is a moral agent, should end his body's life. Although the cases of dementia and the morally reprehensible are vastly different, this Kantian interpretation might be useful in the debate on the permissibility of suicide for those facing dementia's effects. If moral agents have a duty to act as moral agents, then those who will lose their moral identity as moral agents have an obligation to themselves to end their physical lives prior to losing their dignity as persons.

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Dennis Cooley
North Dakota State University

References found in this work

The Metaphysics of Morals.Immanuel Kant - 1797/1996 - Cambridge University Press.
Lectures on Ethics.Immanuel Kant - 1930 - London: Methuen & Co..
Lectures on Ethics.Immanuel Kant - 1980 - In Elizabeth Schmidt Radcliffe, Richard McCarty, Fritz Allhoff & Anand Vaidya (eds.), International Journal of Ethics. Blackwell. pp. 104-106.

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Citations of this work

Kant on Euthanasia and the Duty to Die: Clearing the Air.Michael Cholbi - 2015 - Journal of Medical Ethics 41 (8):607-610.
Alzheimer Disease and Pre-Emptive Suicide.Dena S. Davis - 2014 - Journal of Medical Ethics 40 (8):543-549.
Kant Condemned All Suicide.Stephen R. Latham - 2007 - American Journal of Bioethics 7 (6):49-51.
A Kantian Duty to Commit Suicide and its Implications for Bioethics.Rosamond Rhodes - 2007 - American Journal of Bioethics 7 (6):45 – 47.

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