Kant's Object to Utilitarian Justifications of Punishment Essay Example

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Why does Kant object to Utilitarian justifications of punishment? Do you agree with Kant’s objection? Explain your answer.
In this essay, the utilitarian justification of punishment will briefly go through first. Then Kant's objection to the utilitarian justification of punishment will be explained in the second part. In this part, Kant's fundamental principle in ethics will be used to explain his view in punishment and how utilitarianism violates his principle in ethics. In the final session, I will criticize some points in Kant's objection in order to show that there are flaws in his objection to Utilitarian justifications of punishment.
From a utilitarian's view, all moral judgments are based on the Principle of Utility. Any action is morally right if it produces the best consequences for all. The best consequences were thought to be those that produce the most happiness for all. Punishments are evil in first glance, as they treating people badly deprive people's freedom, property, life or others, and there is no increase in happiness as compensation for infliction of suffering for all. Therefore, punishments can solely be justified when the punishments bring greater happiness that can overcome the unhappiness induced. Bringing comfort to the victims of crime, making the community safe from future crime by imprisonment, deterring people from committing crime and rehabilitating the criminals by removing the criminal tendencies are some arguments always used for justifying punishment in an Utilitarian perspective.
However, Kant has raised some objections to the utilitarian justification of punishment due to two main reasons. The first one is the principle of utility ignores or disrespects human dignity. The second one is utilitarianism fail to punish criminals proportionately according to their crime. As these objections are made according to some fundamental principles in ethics from Kant, explanation on Kant's basic moral theory is therefore required.

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