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Capital Punishment Punishment In The Light Of Kant's Deontology - Essay Example

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Capital Punishment Punishment In The Light Of Kant's Deontology

Advocates of death penalty argue that death penalty is the need of the time as homicides and serious offences are at an increasing rate and that the provision for capital punishment can act as the strongest corrective measure or deterrence. Similarly, the retributive belief that death penalty is essential to preserve retributive justice whereby murderers get the full punishment they deserve and the utilitarian argument that death penalty deters or is necessary to incapacitate prospective criminals have also emphasized the need for capital punishments. On the other hand, the major argument against death penalty is that it is against human rights, ethics and morality. The supporters of the argument hold that death penalty cannot be justified as man has no right to take away the life of anyone. This paper seeks to address the issue of capital punishment in the light of Kant's deontology and his concept of duty based ethics comprising of the categorical imperatives. Kant's concept of 'duty-based' ethics is strongly rooted in his deontological ethical approach where he stresses on certain principles and rules that we ought to respect, even if the consequences are not beneficial for the greatest number. For Kant, one should possess reverence for the universal law which forms the basis for moral values and ethics. It can be seen that Kant’s deontological ethics emphasizes both reason and obligation; his perpetuation of duty based ethics accounts that the person’s actions are performed from duty or obligation towards the universal moral law rather than from any other inclinations. Kant postulated two underlying principles or categorical imperatives to guide everyone through the right ethical framework and for him one can fulfill one’s duty based ethics only when one is moved by these categorical imperatives. Kant’s categorical imperatives are quite anthropocentric in nature. However, Kant also postulates that there could be real conflicts among duties when there are conflicts between one’s moral duties and self-interests. On the other hand, Kant believes in the superiority of the universal moral law and makes it clear that moral duties rarely conflict; rather our self-interests tend to conflict with our duties. It is worthwhile to analyze Kant’s categorical imperatives and how these could be applied to the issue of capital punishment. Kant’s deontological ethics presupposes a universal law of morality that is quite categorical, flawless and universal without exception. The first categorical imperative formulates: act only on that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law. This exhorts people to keep themselves away from any actions or values that do not lead them to the universal law of morality. The first categorical imperative becomes problematic as people’s conception of universal law is quite subjective and these are influenced by conflicts of duties as well as conflicts of self-interests. This casts shadows on what is morally permissible. The second formulation of CI sounds more practical as it asks to treat all persons as ends, and never as means only. As such the second principle respect and regard persons as self-determining rational beings who act for their own purposes. Applying Kantian deontology to the issue of capital punishment it is significant to understand whether the given punishment treats people as means or ends. As such, it can be inferred that inflicting punishment on the convicted as part of deterrence regards the person as a means and cannot therefore be regarded as ethical in Kantian view. On the other han ...Show more

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Capital Punishment
This paper seeks to address the issue of capital punishment in the light of Kant's deontology and his concept of duty based ethics comprising of the categorical imperatives…
Author : gaufderhar
Capital Punishment Punishment In The Light Of Kants Deontology essay example
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