Kant's Theory Of Capital Punishment

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Capital punishment is one of the most highly debated topics in many areas of society, such as politics, philosophy, law, etc. The United States has turned its legislature over and over during the course of history, abolishing it and then reinstating it, depending on the events happening at that point in history. But there are two positions that can be taken in regards to the death penalty, for or against it. The human life is fragile, and the punishment of ending a person’s life as a result of a crime is controversial. In this essay, I argue against capital punishment with reasons claiming that it is unjustifiable and causes more harm than good. First off, capital punishment cannot be justified by the three major theories of punishment, deterrence, …show more content…
In criticism of my argument of the unsuccessful claim of retribution, Kant’s theory that retribution justifies capital punishment will be addressed, and I will in turn respond to the criticism. My first major reason for holding my position is that capital punishment cannot be justified by the three major punishment theories deterrence, retribution, and rehabilitation. They will be discussed and argued as to why they cannot justify capital punishment.
Deterrence states that capital punishment is necessary in order to prevent future crimes of murder by instilling fear of death into the offender. But the argument is that the death penalty does not work because it does not deter future crimes. Deterrence appears to be a strong argument, if someone is done to stop another action from happening, why not do it? But the fact is that deterrence does not work, therefore, capital punishment does not work either. One major issue in justifying deterrence is the lack of evidence (Flanders, 2013). It is difficult to measure whether or not the death penalty deters because there are too many variables and it is hard to control for them (Flanders, 2013, p.4). Due to the small amount of evidence, those are only left to guess and predict, which in unethical even in determining the life or death of a person. This is not to say that statistics are not
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Retribution punishment theory states that if a crime is committed, the same crime shall be committed unto them for equal punishment. Philosopher Immanuel Kant argues in favor of retribution, but that will be discussed further in the essay. Retributivists states that punishment must be given to an offender because they deserve it, not that it will rehabilitate or deter the defender (Flanders, 2013, p.6). This theory is flawed because it does not take into account the actual punishment that should be given according to the crime, but only that it is proportional to the harm caused. Because of this “eye for an eye” mindset, the retributivist underdetermines the severity of punishment that should be given to a certain crime. Retribution does not clearly state an answer to this type of issue, but says only that a criminal deserves to be punished for it, and if he commits a worse crime than someone else, he shall receive a harsher punishment (Flanders 2013, p.7). This main issue here is that there is no specificity in the right amount of punishment, and if the death penalty is the harshest and most severe punishment. What is to say if life in prison without parole is also death, and is the same sentence and punishment as the death penalty? If the severity is the same, then the death penalty need not

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