Kantian paternalism and suicide intervention

In Christian Coons Michael Weber (ed.), Paternalism: Theory and Practice. Cambridge University Press (2013)
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Defends Kantian paternalism: Interference with an individual’s liberty for her own sake is justified absent her actual consent only to the extent that such interference stands a reasonable chance of preventing her from exercising her liberty irrationally in light of the rationally chosen ends that constitute her conception of the good. More specifically, interference with an individual’s liberty is permissible only if, by interfering, we stand a reasonable chance of preventing that agent from performing actions she chose due to distorted reasoning and which would result in that agent’s rationally chosen ends not being as fully realized as they would have been had she so acted. Applied to suicide intervention Kantian paternalism implies that such intervention is justified to the extent that it prevents a person from ending her life when, due to distorted reasoning, she engages in suicidal behavior that is at odds with her rationally chosen ends.

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Michael Cholbi
University of Edinburgh


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