Immanuel Kant was born in Königsberg, East Prussia (today Kaliningrad, Russia), to a devoutly religious Lutheran Pietist family. At the age of 16, he entered the University of Königsberg, initially to study theology, and later to read natural science and philosophy. During this period of his life, Kant was influenced by the thought of the German rationalist Christian Wolff, as well as by Gottfried Leibniz and Isaac Newton. He left the university after the death of his father to work as a private tutor. He returned, however, in 1755, and within the next year, completed his degree and was made a lecturer. For the next 15 years, he published primarily scientific works, many critical of Leibniz and Wolff; between 1770 and 1780, he published very little. He had come to be influenced by Hume and Rousseau as well. Kant was 57 when he published his famous Critique of Pure Reason (1781), which attempted to resolve the conflict between rationalism and empiricism—between the view that knowledge is a priori or innate and the view that it is attained solely by sense perception. This first Critique sought to ascertain the limits of human reason. Kant also held that practical reason, unlike speculative reason, could be used to understand moral problems: in his Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785) and in the second Critique—the Critique of Practical Reason (1788)—he attempted to work out a rational principle of morality. The Critique of Judgment (1790), the third Critique, addressed teleological and aesthetic judgment. Subsequently, he published Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone (1793), Towards Perpetual Peace (1795), and the Metaphysics of Morals (1797).
In his works on ethics, Kant argues that an act can be held to be good if it is done in accord with duty, at the dictate of the good will, and that the “Categorical Imperative” can be employed by the rational agent to determine what is in accord with duty; an action is moral only if one could will without contradiction that it be universal law.
Three selections from Kant’s ethical writings are included here. In the first selection, from the Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals (also called the Prolegomena or Groundwork), Kant demonstrates how it is possible to show that suicide is inherently wrong. He uses suicide as an illustration of the kind of action that cannot satisfy the Categorical Imperative, since one could not, without contradiction, will that committing suicide be universal law. To put it another way, under an alternative formulation of the Categorical Imperative, it is not possible to commit suicide and yet still treat oneself as an end in oneself (as morality requires that one treat all humanity), not just as a means only. In The Metaphysical Principles of Virtue, Kant raises a number of “casuistical questions”—moral dilemmas that explore and challenge the theoretical account he has given. One of them concerns “a great, recently deceased monarch” (Frederick the Great), who in fact always carried poison with him in war. Frederick actually did contemplate suicide with poison on several occasions and came closest to using it on August 12, 1759, at Kunnersdorf, when he led 43,000 troops into battle against the Russians and Austrians but lost 19,000 men; just 3,000 were left as an organized force by nightfall. In a related situation two years earlier, Frederick had said, “. . . nothing is left for me but trying the last extremity . . . and if we cannot conquer, we must all of us have ourselves killed.”
In the Lectures on Ethics, Kant discusses several of the suicides celebrated by the Roman Stoics—Cato, Lucretia, and briefly, Atticus. Although acknowledging that Cato’s suicide is a virtue and that appearances are in its favor, Kant insists that it is the only such example. Kant continues on to argue that while one must not kill oneself, nevertheless in some circumstances, one must be prepared to give life up in order to have lived honorably and “not disgrace the dignity of humanity.”
Kant died in Königsberg at the age of nearly 80. He never traveled more than a few dozen miles from the city.
Immanuel Kant, Grounding for the Metaphysics of Morals, Second Section; and The Metaphysical Principles of Virtue (Part II of the Metaphysics of Morals), I. The Elements of Ethics, First Part, First Book, First Chapter: “Man’s Duty to Himself Insofar as He Is an Animal Being,” both in Immanuel Kant, Ethical Philosophy, Tr. James W. Ellington. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Co., 1983, pp. 23-24, 26, 30-31, 35-36; 82-85; Lectures on Ethics, Tr. Louis Infield. New York: Harper & Row, 1978, pp. 147-157. Passages on Frederick the Great in biographical note are from Frederick the Great on the Art of War, ed. and tr. Jay Luvaas (New York: The Free Press, 1966), pp. 9, 224, 242.
from GROUNDING FOR THE METAPHYSICS OF MORALS
Everything in nature works according to laws. Only a rational being has the power to act according to his conception of laws, i.e., according to principles, and thereby has he a will.. . The representation of an objective principle insofar as it necessitates the will is called a command (of reason), and the formula of the command is called an imperative. There is one imperative which immediately commands a certain conduct without having as its condition any other purpose to be attained by it. This imperative is categorical. It is not concerned with the matter of the action and its intended result, but rather with the form of the action and the principle from which it follows; what is essentially good in the action consists in the mental disposition, let the consequences be what they may. This imperative may be called that of morality. . . .
Hence there is only one categorical imperative and it is this: Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. . . .
The universality of law according to which effects are produced constitutes what is properly called nature in the most general sense (as to form), i.e., the existence of things as far as determined by universal laws. Accordingly, the universal imperative of duty may be expressed thus: Act as if the maxim of your action were to become through your will a universal law of nature.
We shall now enumerate some duties, following the usual division of them into duties to ourselves and to others and into perfect and imperfect duties:
1. A man reduced to despair by a series of misfortunes feels sick of life but is still so far in possession of his reason that he can ask himself whether taking his own life would not be contrary to his duty to himself. Now he asks whether the maxim of his action could become a universal law of nature. But his maxim is this: from self-love I make as my principle to shorten my life when its continued duration threatens more evil than it promises satisfaction. There only remains the question as to whether this principle of self-love can become a universal law of nature. One sees at once a contradiction in a system of nature whose law would destroy life by means of the very same feeling that acts so as to stimulate the furtherance of life, and hence there could be no existence as a system of nature. Therefore, such a maxim cannot possibly hold as a universal law of nature and is, consequently, wholly opposed to the supreme principle of all duty.
Now I say that man, and in general every rational being, exists as an end in himself and not merely as a means to be arbitrarily used by this or that will. He must in all his actions whether directed to himself or to other rational beings, always be regarded at the same time as an end. …Beings whose existence depends not on our will but on nature have, nevertheless, if they are not rational beings, only a relative value as means and are therefore called things. On the other hand, rational beings are called persons inasmuch as their nature already marks them out as ends in themselves, i.e., as something which is not to be used merely as means and hence there is imposed thereby a limit on all arbitrary use of such beings, which are thus objects of respect. Persons are, therefore, not merely subjective ends, whose existence as an effect of our actions has a value for us; but such beings are objective ends, i.e., exist as ends in themselves. . . .
If then there is to be a supreme practical principle and, as far as the human will is concerned, a categorical imperative, then it must be such that from the conception of what is necessarily an end for everyone because this end is an end in itself it constitutes an objective principle of the will and can hence serve as a practical law. The ground of such a principle is this: rational nature exists as an end in itself. In this way man necessarily thinks of his own existence; thus far is it a subjective principle of human actions. But in this way also does every other rational being think of his existence on the same rational ground that holds also for me; hence it is at the same time an objective principle, from which, as a supreme practical ground, all laws of the will must be able to be derived. The practical imperative will therefore be the following: Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means. We now want to see whether this can be carried out in practice.
Let us keep to our previous examples.
First, as regards the concept of necessary duty to oneself, the man who contemplates suicide will ask himself whether his action can be consistent with the idea of humanity as an end in itself. If he destroys himself in order to escape from a difficult situation, then he is making use of his person merely as a means so as to maintain a tolerable condition till the end of his life. Man, however, is not a thing and hence is not something to be used merely as a means; he must in all his actions always be regarded as an end in himself. Therefore, I cannot dispose of man in my own person by mutilating, damaging, or killing him.
from THE METAPHYSICAL PRINCIPLES OF VIRTUE
MAN’S DUTY TO HIMSELF INSOFAR AS HE IS AN ANIMAL BEING
The first, though not the principal, duty of man to himself as an animal being is the preservation of himself in his animal nature.
The opposite of such self-preservation is the deliberate or intentional destruction of one’s animal nature, and this destruction can be thought of as either total or partial. Total destruction is called suicide (autochiria; suicidium); partial can be subdivided into material, as when one deprives himself of certain integral parts (organs) by dismembering or by mutilating, and into formal, as when he deprives himself (forever or for a while) of the physical (and hence indirectly also the moral) use of his powers, i.e., self-stupefaction.
Since this chapter is concerned only with negative duties, i.e., duties of omission, the articles of duty must be directed against the vices which oppose duties one has to himself.
The deliberate killing of oneself can be called self-murder (homocidiumdolosum [“deceptive murder”]) only when it can be shown that the killing is really a crime committed either against one’s own person, or against another person through one’s own suicide (e.g., when a pregnant person kills herself).
Suicide is a crime (murder). To be sure, suicide can also be held to be a transgression of one’s duty to other men, as, for instance, the transgression of the duty of one of a married couple to the other, of parents to children, of a subject to his government or to his fellow citizens, and, finally, of man to God by forsaking the station entrusted to him in this world without being recalled from it. However, we are here concerned with nothing but the violation of a duty to oneself, with whether, if I set aside all the aforementioned considerations concerning one’s duty to other men, a man is still obligated to preserve his life simply because he is a person and must therefore recognize a duty to himself (and a strict one at that).
It seems absurd that a man can injure himself (volentinon fit injuria). The Stoic therefore considered it a prerogative of his personality as a wise man to walk out of this life with an undisturbed mind whenever he liked (as out of a smoke-filled room), not because he was afflicted by actual or anticipated ills, but simply because he could make use of nothing more in this life. And yet this very courage, this strength of mind—of not fearing death and of knowing of something which man can prize more highly than his life—ought to have been an ever so much greater motive for him not to destroy himself, a being having such authoritative superiority over the strongest sensible incentives; consequently, it ought to have been a motive for him not to deprive himself of life.
Man cannot deprive himself of his personality so long as one speaks of duties, thus so long as he lives. That man ought to have the authorization to withdraw himself from all obligation, i.e., to be free to act as if no authorization at all were required for this withdrawal, involves a contradiction. To destroy the subject of morality in his own person is tantamount to obliterating from the world, as far as he can, the very existence of morality itself; but morality is, nevertheless, an end in itself. Accordingly, to dispose of oneself as a mere means to some end of one’s own liking is to degrade the humanity in one’s person (homonoumenon), which, after all, was entrusted to man (homophaenomenon) to preserve.
To deprive oneself of an integral part or organ (to mutilate oneself), e.g., to give away or to sell a tooth so that it can be planted in the jawbone of another person, or to submit oneself to castration in order to gain an easier livelihood as a singer, and so on, belongs to partial self-murder. But this is not the case with the amputation of a dead organ, or one on the verge of mortification and thus harmful to life. Also, it cannot be reckoned a crime against one’s own person to cut off something which is, to be sure, a part, but not an organ of the body, e.g., the hair, although selling one’s hair for gain is not entirely free from blame.
Is it self-murder to plunge oneself into certain death (like Curtius) in order to save one’s country? Or is martyrdom—the deliberate sacrifice of oneself for the good of mankind—also to be regarded, like the former case, as a heroic deed?
Is committing suicide permitted in anticipation of an unjust death sentence from one’s superior? Even if the sovereign permitted such a suicide (as Nero permitted of Seneca)?
Can one attribute a criminal intention to a great, recently deceased monarch [Frederick the Great] because he carried a fast-acting poison with him, presumably so that if he was captured in war (which he always conducted personally), he might not be forced to submit to conditions of ransom which might be harmful to his country? (For he can be credited with such a purpose without one’s being required to presume that he carried the poison out of mere arrogance.)
Bitten by a mad dog, a man already felt hydrophobia coming upon him. He declared that since he had never known anybody cured of it, he would destroy himself in order that, as he said in his testament, he might not in his madness (which he already felt gripping him) bring misfortune to other men too. The question is whether or not he did wrong.
Whoever decides to let himself be inoculated against smallpox risks his life on an uncertainty, although he does it to preserve his life. Accordingly, he is in a much more doubtful position with regard to the law of duty than is the mariner, who does not in the least create the storm to which he entrusts himself. Rather, the former invites an illness which puts him in the danger of death. Consequently, is smallpox inoculation allowed?
from LECTURES ON ETHICS
DUTIES TOWARDS THE BODY IN REGARD TO LIFE
What are our powers of disposal over our life? Have we any authority of disposal over it in any shape or form? How far is it incumbent upon us to take care of it? These are questions which fall to be considered in connexion with our duties towards the body in regard to life. We must, however, by way of introduction, make the following observations. If the body were related to life not as a condition but as an accident or circumstance so that we could at will divest ourselves of it; if we could slip out of it and slip into another just as we leave one country for another, then the body would be subject to our free will and we could rightly have the disposal of it. This, however, would not imply that we could similarly dispose of our life, but only of our circumstances, of the movable goods, the furniture of life. Infact, however, our life is entirely conditioned by our body, so that we cannot conceive of a life not mediated by the body and we cannot make use of our freedom except through the body. It is, therefore, obvious that the body constitutes a part of ourselves. If a man destroys his body, and so his life, he does it by the use of his will, which is itself destroyed in the process. But to use the power of a free willfor its own destruction is self-contradictory. If freedom is the condition of life it cannot be employed to abolish life and so to destroy and abolish itself. To use life for its own destruction, to use life for producing lifelessness, is self-contradictory. These preliminary remarks are sufficient to show that man cannot rightly have any power of disposal in regard to himself and his life, but only in regard to his circumstances. His body gives man power over his life; were he a spirit he could not destroy his life; life in the absolute has been invested by nature with indestructibility and is an end in itself; hence it follows that man cannot have the power to dispose of his life.
Suicide can be regarded in various lights; it might be held to be reprehensible, or permissible, or even heroic. In the first place we have the specious view that suicide can be allowed and tolerated. Its advocates argue thus. So long as he does not violate the proprietary rights of others, man is a free agent. With regard to his body there are various things he can properly do; he can have a boil lanced or a limb amputated, and disregard a scar; he is, in fact, free to do whatever he may consider useful and advisable. If then he comes to the conclusion that the most useful and advisable thing that he can do is to put an end to his life, why should he not be entitled to do so? Why not, if he sees that he can no longer go on living and that he will be ridding himself of misfortune, torment and disgrace? To be sure he robs himself of a full life, but he escapes once and for all from calamity and misfortune. The argument sounds most plausible. But let us, leaving aside religious considerations, examine the act itself. We may treat our body as we please, provided our motives are those of self-preservation. If, for instance, his foot is a hindrance to life, a man might have it amputated. To preserve his person he has the right of disposal over his body. But in taking his life he does not preserve his person; he disposes of his person and not of its attendant circumstances; he robs himself of his person. This is contrary to the highest duty we have towards ourselves, for it annuls the condition of all other duties; it goes beyond the limits of the use of free will, for this use is possible only through the existence of the Subject.
There is another set of considerations which make suicide seem plausible. A man might find himself so placed that he can continue living only under circumstances which deprive life of all value; in which he can no longer live conformably to virtue and prudence, so that he must from noble motives put an end to his life. The advocates of this view quote in support of it the example of Cato. Cato knew that the entire Roman nation relied upon him in their resistance to Caesar, but he found that he could not prevent himself from falling into Caesar’s hands. What was he to do? If he, the champion of freedom, submitted, every one would say, “If Cato himself submits, what else can we do?” If, on the other hand, he killed himself, his death might spur on the Romans to fight to the bitter end in defence of their freedom. So he killed himself. He thought that it was necessary for him to die. He thought that if he could not go on living as Cato, he could not go on living at all. It must certainly be admitted that in a case such as this, where suicide is a virtue, appearances are in its favour. But this is the only example which has given the world the opportunity of defending suicide. It is the only example of its kind and there has been no similar case since. Lucretia also killed herself, but on grounds of modesty and in a fury of vengeance. It is obviously our duty to preserve our honour, particularly in relation to the opposite sex, for whom it is a merit; but we must endeavour to save our honour only to this extent, that we ought not to surrender it for selfish and lustful purposes. To do what Lucretia did is to adopt a remedy which is not at our disposal; itwould have been better had she defended her honour unto death; that would not have been suicide and would have been right; for it is no suicide to risk one’s life against one’s enemies, and even to sacrifice it, in order to observe one’s duties towards oneself.
No one under the sun can bind me to commit suicide; no sovereign can do so. The sovereign can call upon his subjects to fight to the death for their country, and those who fall on the field of battle are not suicides, but the victims of fate. Not only is this not suicide; but the opposite, a faint heart and fear of the death which threatens by the necessity of fate, is no true self-preservation; for he who runs away to save his own life, and leaves his comrades in the lurch, is a coward; but he who defends himself and his fellows even unto death is no suicide, but noble and high-minded; for life is not to be highly regarded for its own sake. I should endeavour to preserve my own life only so far as I am worthy to live. We must draw a distinction between the suicide and the victim of fate. A man who shortens his life by intemperance is guilty of imprudence and indirectly of his own death; but his guilt is not direct; he did not intend to kill himself; his death was not premeditated.For all our offences are either culpa or dolus. There is certainly no dolus here, but there is culpa; and we can say of such a man that he was guilty of his own death, but we cannot say of him that he is a suicide. What constitutes suicide is the intention to destroy oneself. Intemperance and excess which shorten life ought not, therefore, to be called suicide; for if we raise intemperance to the level of suicide, we lower suicide to the level of intemperance. Imprudence, which does not imply a desire to cease to live, must, therefore, be distinguished from the intention to murder oneself. Serious violations of our duty towards ourselves produce an aversion accompanied either by horror or by disgust; suicide is ofthe horrible kind, crimina carnis of the disgusting. We shrink in horror from suicide because all nature seeks its own preservation; an injured tree, a living body, an animal does so; how then could man make of his freedom, which is the acme of life and constitutes its worth, a principle for his own destruction? Nothing more terrible can be imagined; for if man were on every occasion master of his own life, he would be master of the lives of others; and being ready to sacrifice his life at any and every time rather than be captured, he could perpetrate every conceivable crime and vice. We are, therefore, horrified at the very thought of suicide; by it man sinks lower than the beasts; we look upon a suicide as carrion, whilst our sympathy goes forth to the victim of fate.
Those who advocate suicide seek to give the widest interpretation to freedom. There is something flattering in the thought that we can take our own life if we are so minded; and so we find even right-thinking persons defending suicide in this respect. There are many circumstances under which life ought to be sacrificed. If I cannot preserve my life except by violating my duties towards myself, I am bound to sacrifice my life rather than violate these duties. But suicide is in no circumstances permissible. Humanity in one’s own person is something inviolable; it is a holy trust; man is master of all else, but he must not lay hands upon himself. A being who existed of his own necessity could not possibly destroy himself; a being whose existence is not necessary must regard life as the condition of everything else, and in the consciousness that life is a trust reposed in him, such a being recoils at the thought of committing a breach of his holy trust by turning his life against himself. Man can only dispose over things; beasts are things in this sense; but man is not a thing, not a beast. If he disposes over himself, he treats his value as that of a beast. He who so behaves, who has no respect for human nature and makes a thing of himself, becomes for everyone an Object of freewill.We are free to treat him as a beast, as a thing, and to use him for our sport as we do a horse or a dog, for he is no longer a human being; he has made a thing of himself, and, having himself discarded his humanity, he cannot expect that others should respect humanity in him. Yet humanity is worthy of esteem. Even when a man is a bad man, humanity in his person is worthy of esteem. Suicide is not abominable andinadmissible because life should be highly prized; were it so, we could each have our own opinion of how highly we should prize it, and the rule of prudence would often indicate suicide as the best means. But the rule of morality does not admit of it under any condition because it degrades human nature below the level of animal nature and so destroys it. Yet there is much in the world far more important than life. To observe morality is far more important. It is better to sacrifice one’s life than one’s morality. To live is not a necessity; but to live honourably while life lasts is a necessity. We can at all times go on living and doing our duty towards ourselves without having to do violence to ourselves. But he who is prepared to take his own life is no longer worthy to live at all. The pragmatic ground of impulse to live is happiness. Can I then take my own life because I cannot live happily? No! It is not necessary that whilst I live I should live happily; but it is necessary that so long as I live I should live honourably. Misery gives no right to any man to take his own life, for then we should all be entitled to take our lives for lack of pleasure. All our duties towards ourselves would then be directed towards pleasure; but the fulfillment of those duties may demand that we should even sacrifice our life.
Is suicide heroic or cowardly? Sophistication, even though well meant, is not a good thing. It is not good to defend either virtue or vice by splitting hairs. Even right-thinking people declaim against suicide on wrong lines. They say that it is arrant cowardice. But instances of suicide of great heroism exist. We cannot, for example, regard the suicides of Cato and of Atticus as cowardly. Rage, passion and insanity are the most frequent causes of suicide, and that is why persons who attempt suicide and are saved from it are so terrified at their own act that they do not dare to repeat the attempt. There was a timein Roman and in Greek history when suicide was regarded as honourable, so much so that the Romans forbade their slaves to commitsuicide because they did not belong to themselves but to their masters and so were regarded as things, like all other animals. The Stoics said that suicide is the sage’s peaceful death; he leaves the world as he might leave a smoky room for another, because it no longer pleases him; he leaves the world, not because he is no longer happy in it, but because he disdains it. It has already been mentioned that man is greatly flattered by the idea that he is free to remove himself from this world, if he so wishes. He may not make use of this freedom, but the thought of possessing it pleases him. It seems even to have a moral aspect, for if man is capable of removing himself from the world at his own will, he need not submit to any one; he can retain his independence and tell the rudest truths to the cruellest of tyrants. Torture cannot bring him to heel, because he can leave the world at a moment’s notice as a free man can leave the country, if and when he wills it. But this semblance of morality vanishes as soon as we seethat man’s freedom cannot subsist except on a condition which is immutable. This condition is that man may not use his freedom against himself to his own destruction, but that, on the contrary, he should allow nothing external to limit it. Freedom thus conditioned is noble. No chance or misfortune ought to make us afraid to live; we ought to go on living as long as we can do so as human beings and honourably. To bewail one’s fate and misfortune is in itself dishonourable. Had Cato faced any torments which Caesar might have inflicted upon him with a resolute mind and remained steadfast, it would have been noble of him; to violate himself was not so. Those who advocate suicide and teach that there is authority for it necessarily do much harm in a republic of free men. Let us imagine a state in which men held as a general opinion that they were entitled to commit suicide, and that there was even merit and honour in so doing. How dreadful everyone would find them. For he who does not respect his life even in principle cannot be restrained from the most dreadful vices; he recks neither king nor torments.
But as soon as we examine suicide from the standpoint of religion we immediately see it in its true light. We have been placed in this world under certain conditions and for specific purposes. But a suicide opposes the purpose of his Creator; he arrives in the other worldas one who has deserted his post; he must be looked upon as a rebel against God. So long as we remember the truth that it is God’s intention to preserve life, we are bound to regulate our activities in conformity with it. We have no right to offer violence to our nature’s powers of self-preservation and to upset the wisdom of her arrangements. This duty is upon us until the time comes when God expressly commands us to leave this life. Human beings are sentinels on earth and may not leave their posts until relieved by another beneficent hand. God is our owner; we are His property; His providence works for our good. A bondman in the care of a beneficent master deserves punishment if he opposes his master’s wishes. But suicide is not inadmissible and abominable because God has forbidden it; God has forbidden it because it is abdominal in that it degrades man’s inner worth below that of the animal creation. Moral philosophers must, therefore, first and foremost show that suicide is abominable. We find, as a rule, that those who labour for their happiness are more liable to suicide; having tasted the refinements of pleasure, and being deprived of them, they give way to grief, sorrow, and melancholy.
Care for One’s Life
We are in duty bound to take care of our life; but in this connexion it must be remarked that life, in and for itself, is not the greatest of the gifts entrusted to our keeping and of which we must take care. There are duties which are far greater than life and which can often be fulfilled only by sacrificing life. . . . It is cowardly to place a high value upon physical life. The man who on every trifling occasion fears for his life makes a laughing-stock of himself. We must await death with resolution. That must be of little importance which it is of great importance to despise.
On the other hand we ought not to risk our life and hazard losing it for interested and private purposes. To do so is not only imprudent but base. . . .How far we should value our life, and how far we may risk it, is a very subtle question. It turns on the following considerations. Humanity in our own person is an object of the highest esteem and is inviolable in us; rather than dishonour it, or allow it to be dishonoured, man ought to sacrifice his life; for can he himself hold his manhood in honour if it is to be dishonoured by others. If a man cannot preserve his life except by dishonouring his humanity, he ought rather to sacrifice it. . . Thus it is far better to die honoured and respected than to prolong one’s life for a few years by a disgraceful act and go on living a rogue. If, for instance, a woman cannot preserve her life any longer except by surrendering her person to the will of another, she is bound to give up her life rather than dishonour humanity in her own person, which is what she would be doing in giving herself up as a thing to the will of another.
. . .Necessity cannot cancel morality. If, then, I cannot preserve my life except by disgraceful conduct, virtue relieves me of this duty because a higher duty here comes into play and commands me to sacrifice my life.