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Kantian Perspective

Kantian Perspective

All humans must be seen as inherently worthy of respect and dignity. Kant argued that all morality must stem from such duties: a duty based on a deontological ethic. Consequences such as pain or pleasure are irrelevant. According to Kant, in acting from duty and in acting in accordance with duty, the action is the same. The difference relates to the motivation of the act (will). Thus, in acting from duty, to perform the action because it is one’s duty, irrespective of whether or not one is inclined to do it or whether or not it is in their best interests. Kant argues that no consequence can have fundamental moral worth; the only thing that is good in and of itself is Good Will. The Good Will freely chooses to do its moral duty(Stanford). That duty, in turn, is dictated solely by reason. The Good Will thus consists of a person’s free will motivated purely by reason.

Kant said that an “imperative” is something that a person must do. For example: if a person wants to stop being thirsty, it is imperative that they have a drink. Kant’s ethical theory includes two formulations of the Categorical Imperative. The first imperative is “Act only on that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” In this imperative, Kant claims that this formulation lays out the objective conditions of the categorical imperative: that it be universal in form and thus capable of becoming a law of nature. Likewise, the second formulation: “Act in such a way that you always treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never simply as a means, but always at the same time as an end”,; lays out subjective conditions: that there be certain ends in themselves, namely rational beings as such.

An agent who takes his own life acts in violation of the moral law. According to Kant, suicide and, by extension, assisted suicide is therefore, wrong. By a similar argument, and with a few important exceptions, killing is wrong; implicitly, then, voluntary euthanasia is also wrong. Kant’s conclusions are uncompelling, and his argument in these matters is undermined by considering other areas of his thought(Stanford). Kant, in forbidding suicide and euthanasia, is conflating respect for people and assuming that in killing a person (either oneself or another), we are thereby undermining personhood. There is no reason why Kantians have to accept that self-killing and euthanasia are contrary to the moral law. Even if some Kantians adhere to this doctrine, others can reject it.

Kant’s claim is that suicide indicates a maxim along the lines of “From self‐love I make as my principle to shorten my life when its continued duration threatens more evil than it promises satisfaction”, but this is not something that lends itself to universalization (School). The person who commits suicide, therefore, contradicts the purpose of life. Kant argues that the proper end of a rational being is self-preservation. To destroy one’s ability to act is in contradiction with the objectives of free rational agents as such, and so suicide is in contradiction with his or her own nature. For Kant, suicide is a violation towards an agent’s duty to himself(Tim). “Not to commit a suicide” is a perfect duty, which means that it is an absolute prohibition.


School of Law, University of Manchester. (2018, September 24). Kant and Categorical Imperative. Philosophy & Philosophers. https:/ categorical-imperative

Stanford. (2016, July 7). Kant’s Moral Philosophy (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy). Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Tim, “Kant and Categorical Imperative, April 27, 2012, ” in Philosophy & Philosophers,


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Apply duty-based ethical theories to contemporary moral issues.


In this research-based assessment, you will be applying a Kantian perspective to a contemporary moral issue. Current contemporary moral issues ranging from genetic engineering to issues related to the use of torture in wartime. For this assessment, you will need to research contemporary moral issues and select one that will be the focus of your assignment as you apply the Kantian perspective. Once you select your moral issue, you will need to address the following in a properly formatted research assignment.

Kantian Perspective

Kantian Perspective

Explain what duty is according to Kant and how this view differs from other senses of duty.

Describe the relationship between goodwill and duty for Kant.

Differentiate the two formulations of the Categorical Imperative.

How do these formulations apply to your selected contemporary moral issue?

Using the foundation of Kant’s moral theory, explain how there is a moral duty for your selected contemporary moral issues.

Express your view as a maxim.

How feasible is it to universalize your maxim?

How does your maxim fulfill/satisfy each of these formulations

Ensure that you use credible academic sources, and cite them properly.

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