Autonomy and dignity in Kant – suicide as a violation of “duty for duty” and its new interpretation in the field of bioethics

Andrei Ferreira de Ataújo Lima, Thadeu Weber


The German philosopher Immanuel Kant, who argues that autonomy is the core of human dignity, was categorical in stating that suicide violates an action of "duty for duty", which means, it is not a perfect moral action. Therefore, it cannot be universalized and without any possibility of exceptions. However, this same dignity strongly intertwined with the autonomy has been the target of several studies and interpretations in the field of Bioethics, notably by the “principlism” current. Thus, the main purpose is to analyze, from the hypothetical-deductive method, the validity of those arguments, since Kant, the main theoretical reference, was peremptorily opposed to suicide. The investigations began with the analyses of the concept and relationship between autonomy, self-determination and dignity of the human being. Then, we sought to demonstrate the Kantian interpretation of the proposed theme, as well as reinterpretation of authors such as Rawls, Dworkin, Beauchamp, Childress, Kress, Hufen, McHaman, et al,. Finally, it was recognized as a possible harmonization between the principles and fundamental rights in discussion, reaching the conclusion of the plausibility of the existence of a right to die, not indiscriminately, but in a dignified and judicious manner, supported by objective and inalienable standards.


Bioethics – Autonomy – Human dignity – Moral action – Right to die

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