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Lecture 26

PHIL 1413 Lecture 26: PHIL 1413 – 12:06:16

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Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHIL 1413
Professor
Wilks Anna

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Description
1. PHIL 1413 – 12/06/16 THE RIGHT TO PUNISH: RETRIBUTIVISM – Immanuel Kant When dealing with rational beings there is a DEMAND to respect them – you may not use them as a means, but only as an end in themselves. Punishment is sometimes required in morality. Most ethical systems believe that when the moral law is violated, one should be punished. You cannot force people to abide by the law, but you can punish those who don’t. Retributivism:  This material is an excerpt from Kant’s The Philosophy of Law.  According to Kant’s philosophy of law, Judicial or “juridical punishment can never be administered merely as a means for promoting another good, either with regard to the criminal himself or to civil society, but must in all cases be imposed only because the individual on whom it is inflicted has committed a crime.”  The reason Kanting offers for this is that “a [person] ought never to be dealt with merely as a means subservient to the purpose of another, nor be mixed up with the subjects of a real right.” Kant is not defending deterrence – punishing someone for an immoral act to communicate to others not to do the same act. This is using someone as a means – to scare people. Someone should only be punished because they DESERVE it.  Although no person may lose their inborn personality, their crime may warrant their losing their civil personality. Personality is meant here to mean possessing a reason and a will, being an autonomous being. **Understand the distinction between civil personality and inborn personality for FINAL EXAM**  Just punishment of a person must be preceded by the verification that person’s guilt.  Punishment must not have anything to do with achieving any other goal or benefit, such as deterrence.  Kant maintains that “the penal law is a categorical imperative.”  No advantage of utilitarianism “may discharge him from the justice of punishment, or even from the due measure of it.” Not punishing someone is not better, but worse. You can forgive someone on a personal level, but not on the legal level. The law demands that justice be done, and carrying out the punishment is duty.  “For if justice and righteousness perish, human life would no longer have any value in the world.”  So why keep criminals alive who have been “condemned to death” for the purpose of, say, using them as experimental subjects in order to benefit society?  Nothing can serve as a substitute for justice – regardless of how much utility it may have.  Retributivism is grounded in the principle of equality.  It is “the right of
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