Comparing Kant On Morality And Punishment

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On the topic of morality, and what moral values we ought to posses, philosophers Jeremy Bentham and Immanuel Kant hold very contrasting views, as well as contrasting views on punishment. The concept of punishment, and what is considered appropriate in terms of what crime has been committed varies drastically throughout the world. Different governments view crimes differently, and one topic that causes major controversy is the ultimate punishment, the death penalty. Though both Kant and Bentham advocate their views on morality in a clear way, it seems as though Bentham's utilitarian view of morality in regards to the law and punishment is more accepted in society.

Jeremy Bentham was an eighteenth century English philosopher that has been
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Kant believed that one's morality must be based upon a sense of care for others, as well as a common sense of what is morally right. Kant felt as though morality must be applicable to all members of society, regardless of what religious group one belongs to, and that religion should not be associated with morals; one that is weak in faith is not necessarily of bad morals. Kant believed that the government should not act in a paternalistic fashion towards members of society, stating that “[In a] paternalistic government, the subjects [are seen] as immature children who cannot distinguish what is truly useful or harmful to themselves, would be obliged to behave purely and passively and to rely upon the judgement of the head of state” (Rosen & Wolff, 2012, p. 12). Therefore, the government should not have an overly involved role in telling members of society what rules to abide by, as they already have basic a moral understanding of what is right and what is wrong. Kant believed that all decisions are made with the desired outcome in mind; therefore, if one desires to live a happy and successful life, one will carry out the necessary actions in achieving the desired lifestyle. In regards to morality, Kant argued that all members of society must abide by what is morally right, without any exception. Even if one wishes to break the moral code with good faith, they must not …show more content…
Realistically, not all members of society follow the same set of morals, therefore it is possible for there to be discrepancies between what one person regards as suitable behaviour, and what another person may deem inappropriate. However, both Bentham and Kant agree that individuals must make decisions based upon what the desired outcome is. Therefore, if individuals in society desire peace and safety, they must avoid disrupting social order by not committing crimes or behaving in a way that would cause others harm. Bentham, however further believes that any action that will serve and benefit the majority should be taken, even if it means going against what is thought to be morally right. This means that if an action is taken in good faith, and the desired outcome positive and beneficial to society, it must be taken, even if that means that a member of that society is harmed in doing so. If it will serve the greater good, then any action is permissible. Kant, however believes that never, under any circumstances, must one go against what is morally right. Even if an action such as lying or causing an individual harm is taken for the benefit of society, it is not okay. Bentham's utilitarian views on punishment better serve society as government

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