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A Kantian Defense of Prudential Suicide

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Kant's claim that the rational will has absolute value or dignity appears to render any prudential suicide morally impermissible. Although the previous appeals of Kantians (e. g., David Velleman) to the notion that pain or mental anguish can compromise dignity and justify prudential suicide are unsuccessful, these appeals suggest three constraints that an adequate Kantian defense of prudential suicide must meet. Here I off er an account that meets these constraints. Central to this account is the contention that some suicidal agents, because they are unable to fashion a rational conception of their own happiness, are diminished with respect to their dignity of humanity, and as a result, lack the pricelessness that makes prudential suicide wrong on a Kantian view.

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