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Should People Be Punished Discussion Essay

1723 words - 7 pages

Punishment belongs to one of numerous controversial philosophical issues since different thinkers do not share some single opinion on this problem. Since punishment always supposes restricting freedom of an individual or even depriving him or her of certain rights (including even the right to life), it is not surprising that philosophical views on the concept of punishment are diverse. Many famous philosophers promoted respect for human freedom and, thus, could not help but notice that any punishment can be carried out even against the offender's will. Therefore, there was an obvious necessity to resolve the conflict between the punishment and human freedom. Although, any punishment harms human rights and interests and, as a result, cannot be regarded as a normal and desirable form of interaction between people, punishment is essential when people guiltily commit acts that harm society or endanger rights of other people because that is the only way to ensure the stability of society.
Certainly, no one can deny that any punishment is a serious restriction of human freedom and in such a way contradicts the principles, according to which society must protect freedom. For example, Kant believed that all human choices and actions are to be consistent with certain underlying principles (maxims), noticing that only such a principle that could serve as a universal law should be followed (Kant). Consequently, only actions that do not harm people are morally acceptable since society would not be able to function properly if, for example, sending people to prison became a universal law. While Mill was not a strong supporter of strict underlying moral principles offered by Kant, he also believed in the necessity to establish such moral rules that would ensure the prosperity of society and protection of human rights. Certainly, their views were different as Kant was focused on strict rules that never can be violated while Mill paid more attention to utility and maximization of good as factors that allow to resolve the issue when moral principles cannot help. Nevertheless, both authors promoted values and principles, which were supposed to create benefits for people, not harm. In this context, punishment truly can be seen as an undesirable phenomenon that harms people, depriving them of the ability to enjoy most rights available to others. It certainly might seem rather absurd that society, which seeks to protect human rights, attains this goal, among other means, by restricting rights of some people.
However, despite the existence of some conflict between individual freedom and punishment, the latter still is essential for the welfare of society. Even Kant who was a supporter of universal moral laws recognized the significance of punishment. For example, he emphasized that it is the responsibility of any state to punish people that are guilty of some wrongdoing. Also, Kant noticed that freedom always has certain limitations. Kant's philosophical views...

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