Kant 's Categorical Imperative Essay

901 Words4 Pages
One constant between all cultures is the understanding that all lives will come to an end. Throughout one’s lifetime, virtue, character, and morality are sought, through different ideals and methods, with the overall endgame being the most ethical and desirable outcome possible. There are times, however, when an individual may feel like there is no hope of reaching a successful existence; therefore the act of suicide becomes a viable option. The decision to voluntarily take one’s life has always been a topic of discussion on ethical grounds. Whether or not the decision to die is an ethical one can be argued depending on from which ethical theory the act is being evaluated. Non-acceptable Looking at Kant’s categorical imperative, whether or not an action is moral depends on two formations (1) the rule of universalizability and (2) the rule to treat persons as ends in themselves (Brannigan 108). In his work Fundamental Principles of The Metaphysic of Morals, Kant suggests that “He who contemplates suicide should ask himself whether his action can be consistent with the idea of humanity as an end in itself”(Kant). According to Kant, in order to make the claim that suicide is ethical, the first formation of the categorical imperative would require the willingness to accept such as act as universal law; to accept that everyone should behave the same way. When looking at the second formation, suicide requires one to treat themselves as a means to an end. As Kant considers this an act of self-interest, it can be concluded that suicide, through the idea of categorical imperative, is morally wrong. St. Thomas Aquinas’ natural law assumes a relationship between an individual and God; the idea of right or wrong being contingent on wh... ... middle of paper ... ...ma which causes problems in moral understanding, especially between cultures. While no ethical theory outright supports the method, it has been argued that certain cultures find certain cases ethical, while others condemn the practice completely. I believe, however, that the most imperative aspect when evaluating ethical issues on a multicultural level is to take the idea of ethical relativism into consideration. Whether or not there is agreement on moral standards or principles between different cultures/theories, all frameworks on which judgment is based is relative to one’s own specific set of principles. When there is a realization that no universal standard exists for all people, each ethical dilemma can be best approached by studying the culture in which the problem is occurring; for understanding lies in the relevant differences and reasons of each theory.
Open Document