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General Kantian Perspective on Punishment - Essay Example

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General Kantian Perspective on Punishment

In this theory, punishment is not justified by any good results but by the guilt of the criminal and therefore, a criminal must pay for their misdoings in a way that is proportional to the harm inflicted by their wrongdoing. This was very common in many traditions and it is clearly seen in the Jewish tradition in the Bible specifically in the Law of Moses. In the event that a person is tried and found guilty and punishable of a crime, the individual automatically forfeits or suspends an equal value of his or her right to something. Kant contends that the punishment must fit the crime committed and argues that a crime committed to another person is a crime perpetrated to one self. He contends that the most appropriate punishment for a murderer is capital punishment (execution). If a person who has committed a murder is allowed to live, justice is not done and this exemplifies a subversion of justice and the very essence of humanity in the world. Punishment of an equal measure is in all ways justified by the criminal act of the criminal, this is the right of retaliation and punishment in the mode of ‘like for like’. Retributive justice often faces a lot of criticism especially from human rights activists who say that it is a violation of the natural rights of the offender. Natural rights are the basic and fundamental rights to all human beings by virtue of being creatures of nature; these are the rights that every human being is born with and cannot be taken away by anyone or any government or society. These rights protect us against the deprivations that can be imposed by the interests of others on us. Chief among natural rights is the right to life and the right to own property. Other natural rights include the freedom of worship, right to participate in government and politics, and the freedom of expression. Natural rights are based on the assumption that human beings are naturally rational and good and thus enjoy certain rights that are absolute at all levels or stages of the human life. Punishment should not violate the natural rights that individuals are entitled to because this would cause more harm than good, “we ought not to impose such harm on anyone unless we have a very good reason for doing so” (Golash 1). In retributive justice, the punishment in most cases is seen to override and violate the natural rights of the culprits/offenders. It is seen to be very punitive and does no good to the society. Retributive punishment is in no way tied to the impact it might have on the society but in the punishment of the offender in a manner that is commensurate to the crime committed (Rosen 7). The only fit or rather reasonable punishment for a person who has killed another person is that he should die; therefore, in taking away another man’s life, which the offender cannot reinstate, he or she forfeits or suspends his/her natural right to life, this is the right punishment for like with like. Justice should never at any time be exercised for the encouraging another good either regarding to the unlawful or the society. Justice is administered because an individual has committed a crime and is solely responsible for his actions and should be subjected to a punishment of an equal measure to the crime committed. Matters of justice are therefore not in any way contingent with the natural rights of a guilty individual. According to the maxim of the Pharisees, it is better that one man is put to death than that all people should perish; in this regard if righteousness and justice perish then human life loses its value dignity and essence in the world. The idea of keeping a man who has been condemned to death alive is therefore a ...Show more
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A Kantian is a proponent of the retributive theory of punishment that was put forward by the German Law philosopher Immanuel Kant. …
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