Notes from a small island
A weblog by Jonathan Ali

Monday, December 16, 2002  

Speaking of the death penalty: Nicholas Laughlin, in a post on the nature of good and evil, approvingly quotes Christ's "Do unto others" dictum and Immanuel Kant's categorical imperative as maxims we as humans would do well to follow, in that they ask of us to "imagine what the world feels like to someone else."

All well and good, but the problem I have with the categorical imperative is that it justifies the death penalty (of which I am an opponent, not incidentally). Kant would justify the death penalty if the convict has shown that he no longer treats people as ends in themselves but means to an end. If the convict has shown this, and according to Kant this is what the murderer has done, then he is no longer a human being, but an animal, and killing the convict is perfectly fine, indeed required.

I know that Nicholas is an opponent of the death penalty. I wonder how he reconciles this and his support of the categorical imperative?

posted by Jonathan | 10:16 AM 0 comments


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