Philosophy 160
Introduction to Ethics

Handout 9 - Kant

Respect for Persons:

Treat humanity always as an end and never as a means only.

The Categorical Imperative (aka Universalizability):

Act in a certain way only if it would ok with you if everyone acted the same way in the same situation.

The Justification of Punishment:

The Utilitarian Justification of Punishment:

Punishment is justified only when it has good enough consequences.

Some possible good consequences of punishment:

a. Deterrence
b. Rehabilitation
c. Pleasures of Vengeance
d. Reduction in Fear
e. Incapacitation

The Retributive Justification of Punishment:

Punishment is justified when "the punishment fits the crime."

Kantian Justification for Retributivism:

a. Respect for Humanity

Punishing for the sake of its good consequences treats the punished merely as a means.  It's more respectful to punish for retributive reasons -- it treats the person not as a means to some end but rather how s/he deserves to be treated.

b. Universalizability

Someone who commits a crime says, through his/her action, that this is how people are to be treated.  So if we punish him/her by treating him/her in the same way, we are simply carrying out his "wishes" -- we make the maxim he has acted on a universal law.