HowKant Might Resolve the Issue on the Death Penalty
Thereare a number of people that society has aptly named as‘Retributivists’. Their view of justice or vengeance is deathpenalty for wrongdoers especially those who commits atrocious crimes(Anderson par). Immanuel Kant was an original death penalty theoristwho felt that if someone commits murder, he or she should be punishedto death. Kant did not believe in using the death penalty as adeterrent, simply that the punishment should fit the crime. Kantsaid, “If an offender has committed murder, he must die”. In thiscase, no possible substitute can satisfy justice. For there is noparallel between death and even the most miserable life so that thereis no equality of crime and retribution unless the perpetrator isjudicially put to death.” A society that is not willing to demand alife of somebody who has taken somebody else’s life is simplyimmoral. During Kant’s time, capital punishment was used for avariety of crimes, but Kant only supported it in the case of murder(Yost par).
Kantwould defend his views against the right to life argument using thecategorical imperative. Kant believed that as cognitive beings, wevalue our freedom and thus we are committed to doing what it takes toprotect our freedom. Therefore, we are categorically required tocreate legal institutions. These legal institutions under juridicallaw would be required to punish. Kant writes, “The mere idea of acivil constitution among human beings carries with it the concept ofpunitive justice belonging to the supreme authority” (Rohlf par)
Consequently,the questions emerges is, what would Kant say about loaded juries,lying witnesses and unfair judges being used as objections to thedeath penalty? Kant would use goodwill as his defense against thosetypes of objections. Kant believed that the only thing good in itselfis the “Good will.” Therefore, doing something because you thinkis good doesn’t make the act good. It all matters on the attitudeyou have towards it or inclination. Kant defined inclination as doingout of good will, strictly for the sake of duty (Kant par). Meaning,you do the right thing because it is your job as a cognitive being.As cognitive beings Kant believed that we have the knowledge ofpractical reason, and when subjective conditions conflict with doingwhat is right, the moral person relies on reason to do the correctthing. So, jurors and judges should always do the right thing whentrying a case because it is their moral job to do so.
Whatwould be Kant’s defense against the wrongfully imprisoned on deathrow? Kant said, “It was not the consequences of actions that makethem right or wrong but the motives of the person who carries out theaction.” Kant as a non consequentialist would argue that as long asthe wrongfully accused was afford all the same rights and resourcesas everyone else, and the arresting officers, jury, judge andeveryone else that had anything to do with his or her trial actedwith goodwill, then no travesty was committed.
Anderson,Jeremy. "Phil120: Kant on the Death Penalty." Phil 120: Kant on the DeathPenalty.Depauw University. 19 Mar. 2014<http://acad.depauw.edu/~jeremyanderson/old/120s05/120z_kant.html>."Immanuel Kant." Wikipedia. 15 Mar. 2014. WikimediaFoundation.18 Mar. 2014 <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immanuel_Kant>.
Kant,Immanuel. "TheOnline Library of Liberty."Online Library of Liberty. Trans. Thomas K. Abbott. 2014. London:Kongmans, Green and Co, 1889. 18 Mar. 2014<http://oll.libertyfund.org/?option=com_staticxt&staticfile=show.php%3Ftitle=360&chapter=61770&layout=html&Itemid=27>.
Rohlf,Michael. "ImmanuelKant." Stanford University.20 May 2010. Stanford University. 19 Mar. 2014<http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/ kant/#MorFre>.
Yost,Bejamin. "JoinAcademia.edu & Share your research with the world." Kant`sJustification of the Death Penalty Reconsidered.Providence College. 19 Mar. 2014 <http://www.academia.edu/431270/Kants_Justification_of_the_Death_Penalty_Reconsidered_-_Kantian_Review_-_Uncorrected_Proofs>.