Utilitarian and Kantian Analysis of Death Penalty

A society filled with good morals, no criminals or crime itself, a community full of justice is all that the world society covets most. From Utilitarian and Kantian arguments, death penalty is the only judgment that will see a society with no grave evils like murder. Death penalty/euthanasia/capital punishment or death sentence is the execution of convicted criminals by the nation or state as retribution for crimes committed. There are several techniques of execution, including: decapitation, the gas chamber, hanging, electrocution, lethal injection, and the firing squad. In modern days almost all European countries have abolished capital punishment. Conversely, some states of America still retain and practice it. The euthanasia is the gravest form of penalty present in world today where poisonous injection is the most common form used. Is capital punishment morally wrong? Capital punishment is often the subject of controversy in some cultures. This paper is going to look at both Utilitarian and Kantian point of view with regard to death penalty.

The Utilitarian view, a supporter of capital punishment, argues that it deters crime, and is the suitable form of punishment for the offense of murder. On the other hand, antagonists of death penalty advocate that it violates human rights of the offender’s right to life. They also suppose that it does not discourage criminals more than life imprisonment and leads to executions of some who are wrongfully convicted. Moreover, they argue that life imprisonment could be helpful substitute (Rachels 24).

Utilitarianism argues, that capital punishment can aid in reducing crimes by deterring and scaring the would-be criminals (deterrence). An individual who is tempted to commit a crime is compelled not to, if he knows and understands the verdict. Almost each and everybody across the globe fears death, and therefore, no one will ever allow himself to be exposed to death. In addition, making individuals who have committed criminal offences incapable of repeating the same in future is justified according to the utilitarian hypothesis. Executing offenders, incapacitates them, and eliminates them from streets, which mean that future crimes are not foreseeable. With regard to this the society will lead a happy and prosperous life (Rachels 27).

Consequently, capital punishment brings about comfort and gratification to the victims’ family. For instance, family members will be happy that the source of their daily shame has been terminated. The Utilitarian theory argues that offenders should receive their spoil for they themselves have exterminated the lives of many individuals. In the same line, family members will get relieved of the continued harassment from the police and crime investigation personnel (Rachels 28).

Utilitarian also believe that euthanasia helps a country to save money. Countries spend a lot of money in fighting crime as well as maintaining criminals in prisons at the expense of the tax payers. Nevertheless, the criminals are fond of destructing and spoiling the cohesive order in the society, nation, and even the world at large. Tracking multinational criminals is expensive and hence when they are found they should be executed to spare world governments from spending million of dollars in tracking them.

Kant argument with regard to euthanasia is that, it is better one man to perish, than the whole family or society to perish. If the impartiality or morality dies, then life has no value in the world. With such hypothesis, there is no need to keep criminals alive, if he is allowed to carry on with his offensive activities the whole society will perish. For instance, the unwarranted evil that an individual commits on another should be looked upon as perpetrated on himself. “If you slander another, you slander yourself, if you steal from another, you steal from yourself; if you strike another person you strike yourself; if you kill another, you kill yourself.”(Kant 34). In relation to this, when one kills another, he robs himself of the security that he has, and therefore, he must also be executed (if you commit murder you are also entitled to die).

Kant proceeds and argues that there is no likeness or sameness or proportion linking life and death however much that life is painful. This implies that, when one commits murder, he cannot replace that life even if he is subjected to hazardous conditions. The only medicine, according to Kant, is for the murderer to die (Rachels & Rachels 411).

The equalization of penalizing crime is possible only if the judge recognizes and even expands the death penalty with regard to the weight of retaliation. The sentence or penalty to criminals should be proportionate to their deep rooted wickedness. Kant argues that the sentence for murder is equivalent to the death penalty. He argues that, a honorable man regards his status even more than his own life, while a poor man values his life even though it is rapped with shame. The punishment that is equal to all these individuals is death penalty in case both are convicted of murder (Kant 45).

In conclusion, the Utilitarian and Kantian arguments with respect to death penalty; both argue that euthanasia is the best judgment for offenders who take away the life of other individuals. This is the only judgment that is proportional to their wicked acts and behaviors. Death sentence will not only scare away the would-be criminals from indulging in criminal activities but also eliminating the hard core criminals from the society.

Works Cited

Kant, Immanuel. The Philosophy of Law, Part II trans. W. Hastie, 1887.

Rachels, James. & Rachels, Stuart. The Right Thing to Do. New York: McGraw Hill, 2007.

Rachels, James. The Elements Of Moral Philosophy. New York: McGraw Hill, 2007.

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