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Jeremy Bentham and Immanuel Kant on Suicide - Essay Example

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Jeremy Bentham and Immanuel Kant on Suicide

Whether this number of suicide cases is reasonable or not, it is assumed that when the act was committed and even only at that point, an individual had considered suicide as the most reasonable means of surviving the situation, and that the number of people who accept such an idea may in fact be increasing. The 18th century philosophers Jeremy Bentham and Immanuel Kant constructed ethical principles that determined the rightness or wrongness of suicide. The act of suicide is not moral based on the ethical principles authored by Jeremy Bentham and Immanuel Kant. Bentham’s philosophy is defined by the value of the action in terms of utility, which roughly translates as human benefit, and so suicide does not give a person any material benefit in the long run for it almost always results in death. For the British philosopher, the moral basis of an action is how much utility it affords the individual. This translates as pleasure and avoidance of pain according to “its intensity, its duration, its certainty or uncertainty, its propinquity or remoteness” (Perry & Bratham 485). Most people would contend that suicide may bring the individual peace and freedom from any more physical pain as he dies. However, committing suicide is also through pain itself, which is never a benefit to the individual. The intensity and duration of the act of suicide must be equivalent to the intensity and duration of pain that the person will experience. ...
After all, there is no guarantee that there is no more spiritual pain and torment in the afterlife even if death meant the cessation of all physical pain. Thus, suicide is not moral because it does not truly give the guarantee that one is freed from pain just because one dies. After all, there is no authentic proof that the afterlife is a life of eternal goodness and pleasure. Moreover, suicide is not moral because it is followed by undesirable circumstances. For Bentham, an act is moral also if it is followed by sensations of the same kind, which is known as fecundity, or if it is not being followed by sensations of the opposite kind, which is known as purity (485). In terms of fecundity, no one can really be sure about suicide as its usual consequence is death. However, based on Bentham’s definition of fecundity, the sensations of pain from suicide may actually be followed by more pain in the afterlife or in the physical life if the person did not actually die. On the other hand, when it comes to purity of action, even if the suicide were painless, there is no guarantee that there is no more pain for the individual in the afterlife. Moreover, there must even be a lot of pain that he would leave in the physical world. There is therefore no escape from pain when it comes to suicide, thus it is not a moral act. Suicide is also not moral because it negatively affects many people. For Bentham, one last basis of the morality of an act is its “extent” or the number of people who are affected by it (485). This means that the person who dies from suicide leaves behind family members and friends who would grieve his death or who would suffer in this world because of him. For example, if he were a doctor ...Show more


According to the World Health Organization, the highest is 71 people for every 100,000 who kill themselves annually in Lituania, 57 in Belarus, 51 in Kazakhstan, 48 in Latvia, and so on (“Suicide rates per 100,000 by country, year and sex”). …
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Jeremy Bentham and Immanuel Kant on Suicide essay example
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