Critical Thinking

Present was articulated in his work titled “Metaphysics

Present day in America,  people can say that if someone breaks the law, consequences should be implemented. Similar to past days as well except many philosophers had different views on how it should be done, carried out or what type of crimes it should be implemented for especially in the case of murders. The punishment for murder is becoming something of a joke theses days. The sentencing by a judge is easier and shorter now. A murderer can be sentence to life in prison but has a chance to serve only fifteen years and be on parole in the streets for the remainder on the time. In which case people who are committing these crimes are not afraid of the punishment. They feel they can commit them over and over with this mind set. Viewing this type of attitude towards punishment displays an incompetent legal system which is meant to teach people not to follow the same footsteps. But if the criminal justice system giving such light sentences to these murderers it shows us that our system is flawed, ineffective and quite frankly sickening.Kant’s ideology of capital punishment and crime was articulated in his work titled “Metaphysics of Morals”. He begins with the definition of what crime is and the right to punish. In his opinion a state or a society is able to exist without laws. Essentially carrying out the law is a need for a society and it helps protect both the law and the state. To him, ” Everything in nature works according to laws,” so, anyone who breaks that law is no longer a member of society, defies the social norm and should be found guilty and punished. He feels humans are thoughtful beings, we all have a duty to fulfill and should be held accountable for our actions. According to Kant, “Duty is the necessity of acting from respect for the law.” It is the leaders right to make those who violate the law suffer. To punish the leader is impossible because the right belongs to him, he can only renounce his position for his crimes but not be punished for them.Kant’s definition of the crime is a violation of the social laws and is grounds for punishment. People who follow these laws are society members and those who break the law lose the right to be the society members and must be punished. A personal or social crime is violation of the law either way. A crime committed against a person is a personal crime; while a social crime is a crime committed against society. Personal crimes are reviewed by a civil court. Meanwhile a social crime is looked over and punished under the criminal code. A crime is a crime some are just more serious than others, the difference is that the damage is experienced by one person while the other is by the whole society. The punishment to the criminal is only for the state to decide. If the victim decides to take actions into their own hands it is no longer a matter a punishment it is looked upon as an act of revenge. One person punishing another for a crime committed is not viewed in the courts because such reparation should be only handled by the courts not by an individual.According to Kant punishment has to have a basis and that basis is a crime. If there is no crime, there must be no punishment. A person can not be punished just because it benefits society or to make an example out of them. “He must first be found guilty and punishable, before there can be any thought of drawing from his punishment any benefit for himself or his fellow-citizens” (Kant, 1956). If a person is punished for the benefit for the society this approach shows that the basis for punishment is no longer about crime. It can also indicate the possibility of punishing an innocent person to keep him from committing a crime. The concept of punishment would lose its meaning, it would become flimsy and unjustified.Of course as we all know punishment is causing injury to a criminal makes it look similar to revenge. The theory “eye for an eye” comes in handy here where the concept expresses fair punishment. Does not mean the punishment is for the sake of teaching offenders a lesson or society a lesson. Punishment is seen as retribution in the legal system. Not to prove or scare people but to penalize someone for their actions. When a person commits illegal activities they do not realize what type of damage they are causing to society but it is nothing less than the harm he is causing himself as a member. Anything done to others affects society and affects the individual doing it. Harming a society means harming every member. This is when the theory an “eye for eye” is acceptable and allows fair punishment, but not always. Kant straight out claims capital punishment for murderers. He thinks the death penalty prevents further illegal behavior thus making it morally acceptable. According to Kant “whoever has committed murder, must die” (Kant, 1956), because no matter how difficult life might be, it is still better than death. To punish a murderer, the courts, have to see to it mandatorily. If the courts do not punish a murderer, they in turn are seen as taking a part in the crime as well. According to Kant there should be no clear reason why a state should not have the right to punish a murderer. He feels a death penalty is a good way in punishing for murder, not any other crime unless it has a big effect on society. In a case of murder, the possibility for the murderer to justify his actions and be given legal rights should be slim to none.Kant believes that abolishing the death penalty should leave us where? What can we utilize in replacement of the penalty? Life behind bars is embarrassing and worse than death itself. For example, two individuals given the death penalty. One wants death and the other wants to live behind bars with the shame. To Kant, he believes the individual that wants death is the best man because as he states “the man of honor would choose death, and the knave would choose servitude” (Kant, 1956). He feels if the death penalty is abolished we are just doing a favor for murderers because death is what they deserve and nothing less. He also feels there are certain cases where murderers should get a lighter penalty. For example, a mother who kills their kid to elude shame (abortion) and people participating in combat for honor.In the case of a mother killing her kid (abortion), Kant feels it is shameful to give birth to an illegal child, so this is a situation that needs consideration in the punishment handed down. In the other case of combat, the individuals’ dignity is more than life while he is risking his life. In reality, the state does not consider anything about honor, dignity or principle. To them it will be a poor justification for committing murder. A punishment must always be equal to the crime. A different punishment or lighter penalty for the same crime is a mistake. Murderers sentenced to death should not be allowed to appeal for a pardon or a lighter sentence according to Kant. The proper punishment for murder is death and pardon is out of the question. If a pardon is given to a murderer controversy between the public and the law makers will derive from such decision. If any changes are made to such sentence for that murderer the system will be looked as weak. Legal authorities should have no significance over a murderers’ death penalty sentence, if so it can be seen as contradicting. The law must be upheld once a decision is made. Kant emphasizes various times that a murderer shall die by all means. He also believes that those people who regulates the laws should not have any involvement in criminal activity. If such thing should happen that individual is not able to properly function fulfilling the law. If the person still does so and gives a sentence on their own self, they have to be able to carry out the punishment on themselves as well.In Kant’s ideology, he explored and justified his reasons for capital punishment. He believes that we should have capital punishment. Our society and state lives up to their laws and norms. If such laws and norms are not abided by, the harm done by an individual to society should be punished. Kant does have a point that punishment can not be seen as beneficial unless it only the benefit of society. It just would not be right or justifiable. Morality for Kant is all about a person and their commitment to do good. Criminals should be punished for their wrongdoings; if they are left unpunished we would be going against our moral obligations to correct the wrongs that have been done. So if people hurt others they should be hurt in return, if a life is taken than the person who took it will have their life taken. All criminal punishment should be proportionate to the crime committed.  Capital punishment for murderers would be suitable but in a lot of places the death penalty was changed to a life sentence. Kant feels that the person who feels shame would not mind serving a life sentence and those who do not care what happens does not mind being put to death. Capital punishment is not just a retribution form of punishment but it is a warning for those that participate in illegal activities. It teaches others in society not to crime similar offense or others for that matter because this is where it leads you. The death penalty and other punishments influences the criminal mind and morals as well societies. People who have self-respect and logic are the ones who deserve respect and are worth something in society. Social order is achieved with laws that must be followed to establish norms. It is simply put as if you do not follow those laws, people should be punished for breaking them. This helps to make individuals in society act accordingly and respectable. Kant viewed morality importantly and he thought everyone else should do the same no matter  our religious beliefs or whatever other beliefs people. For Kant, the same went for ethical facts but there is a difference between things we should to do morally and the things we should do for other non ethical reasons. He pointed out that most of the time whether or not we should do something is not really a righteous choice instead it is just provisional based on our desires. Kant called this hypothetical imperatives regulations that you should follow if you want something. But hypothetical imperatives are about common sense rather than goodness. The hypothetical imperatives was not seem for morality but through what he called a categorical imperative. These are instructions you must follow despite of what you may desire.Categorical imperatives are our moral obligations and Kant believed that they come from pure reason he said it doesn’t matter whether you want to be moral or not. He said that you don’t need religion to determine what that law is because of what is right and wrong is totally knowable just by using your intellect. The categorical imperative can be understood in terms of various different ways. For instance the universalizability principle and he phrased it as such, “act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law without contradiction.” Meaning a maxim is just a rule or principle of action and the universal law is something that must always be done in similar situations. For example, stealing, if you approve of the maxim of stealing then what you’re actually doing is universalizing that action. You are saying that everyone should always steal and if you are able to do it than everyone should be able to do it. Stealing is not really universalizability because it would be a constant revolving door. So, in all reality it is not fair to make an exception for yourself if it can not be applied to society as a whole. Kant believes that moral rules apply to everyone equally sounds nice and fair but it can sometimes lead to some pretty counter intuitive results. For example, if someone asked you where our children are because they want to kill them, under the moral rules you can not lie under any circumstance not even to save their life. If you do, you will be violating the moral law even if it was for a really good cause. So to sum it up, the first term phrase of the categorical imperative is about the universality of our actions. The second part focuses on how we should treat other people. According to Kant, “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.” In other words to use something as a mere means is to use it only for your own benefit with no thought to the interests or benefit of the thing you’re using. It is fine to use things as mere means but not people because people are not objects that exist to be used by others. We have our own ends, we have set goals and things we would like to work towards. People exist for themselves so to treat someone as an end means you realize that they have goals and other interests of their own and you must morally keep that in mind.Kant also pointed out that we do use people all the time and that is ok because most of the time we use other people as a means for something but not as a mere means. You still recognize their humanity when we use them and they agreed to being used. He believes people do not deserve to be used as mere means because of our autonomy, unlike other things in the world were self governed were able to set our own ends to make our own free decisions based on our rational wills, people can make goals for themselves and take steps to achieve those goals. This is absolute moral worth Kant said which means that people should not be manipulated or manipulate others for our own benefit. Lying and deception are not ok because if a person is being deceived they are not able to make an self-determined decision about how to act because it would be based on false information. Lying and deceiving someone is treating them as a mere means to accomplish your goals with no thought to their own goals and interests and that’s a violation of Kant’s second categorical imperative. In conclusion, we can see that Kant provides a clear and logical justification for death penalty. Murderers under Kant’s categorical imperative can not lie or deceive people to get a pardon or justify their action because it be of violation. Using people for their own benefit to get out of the death penalty would still need punishing for. Kant shows in what cases and under what conditions or circumstances death penalty can be morally acceptable and I am in total agreement with him.


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