No King and No Torture: Kant on Suicide and Law

Kantian Review 21 (1):77-100 (2016)
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Abstract

Kant’s most canonical argument against suicide, the universal law argument, is widely dismissed. This paper attempts to save it, showing that a suicide maxim, universalized, undermines all bases for practical law, resisting both the non-negotiable value of free rational willing and the ordinary array of sensuous commitments that inform prudential incentives. Suicide therefore undermines moral law governed community as a whole, threatening ‘savage disorder’. In pursuing this argument, I propose a non-teleological and non-theoretical nature – a ‘practical nature’ or moral law governed whole – the realization of which morality demands.

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Jennifer K. Uleman
Purchase College, State University of New York

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