ProfessorCathal O Madagain
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PHLB09 2011 Lecture 13
oSuicide is against your autonomy (your rational interests)
•It can't be consistent with your autonomy to undermine the principle
upon which autonomy depends
•...but you can't commit suicide, which by definition is with self-intent,
without fulfilling your autonomy...so...contradiction?
•Hume against Aquinas
oRe: against nature
•1: It's prohibited to interrupt the course of nature by killing yourself, then
you can't save yourself either…
•2: Your free will is a part of nature! So exercising your free will can't be
going against nature…
oRe: Against Community
•1: it's only against your community if you owe your community…
•2: could even be a benefit (eg. Captain Oates)
•3: And anyhow hermits leave…
oRe: Against God
•The claim is that God put me here, so only God can take me away
•Did God put me here? Surely my parents did that?
•If you reply that your parents decision was guided by God…
•Then I can respond by saying my life and decisions are also guided by
•Hume Against Kant
oNobody ever killed themselves "lightly"-
oSheds doubt on Kant's claim that suicide is inconsistent with a person's interests
•More reasons to be suspicious of Kant's claim…
oCan't I kill my future non-autonomous self?
•If I'm losing my autonomy -
•If I am going into a permanent coma…
•...if I'm concerned with my future non-autonomous self, then this suggests my
autonomous self is not the only 'self' I identify with…
oIs autonomy better than anything?
•What if preserving my autonomy means suffering and constant pain for a million years?
•Or that other people will suffer constant pain for a million years?
oHighlights the distinction between meaningfulness and experiential interests.
Meaningfulness interests are tied up with autonomy. There is no meaningfulness interest
in these conditions where autonomy is lost. Thus, it seems Kant is overemphasizing our
value placed on meaningfulness interests, and undermining the value of experiential
•We have both:
oMeaningfulness interests (fundamentally connected with autonomy - the active
side of our lives)
•We have experiences whether we're autonomous or not;
•Tied to the passive side of our lives
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