The Death Penalty Preserves Human Dignity

2503 words - 10 pages

America’s million dollar question is should capital punishment be allowed? Americans have been blindsided with decisions about the death penalty; in the past many have agreed with the punishment due to lack of knowledge on the issue. Today, information on capital punishment is everywhere. I agreed with most of America on the issue; it should be allowed because of its many beneficial reasons. I believe in “just desert,” that is criminals should receive the same punishment that they used against their victims. If you murder someone intentionally you should receive the death penalty. Finally, society feels relief as the capital punishment protects their own human dignity that are at risk if the accused remains alive; society dignity fails if they don’t punish the accused for they become participators of the crime. Therefore, the occurrence of anarchy is avoided with this punishment as it will serve as deterrence as well. Some philosophers such as Kant and Pojman have agreed with my view while others like Marshall and Bedau have challenged it.
Kant conditionally agreed with the death penalty. He created a conception of human dignity that gave people this special value. He believed that human dignity is a person’s worth and must be respected. Hence, the death penalty is approved because respecting human dignity would require capital punishment for a murderer. Human dignity is essential and special because everyone attains it. Human dignity is based on a special kind of worth that does not vary and is a value that everyone attains equally (this equality serves as the basis for equal human rights). Human dignity is not to be confused with the usefulness of a person, their talents, values, or luck because these are all extrinsic attributes that vary from person to person. Kant used human dignity as the base of his argument because human dignity ties into autonomy, freedom, and self-conscious rationality. When acts of manipulation and patronizing occur they violate the person’s autonomy and status resulting in a violation of dignity as well. We can evaluate and justify this violation because we acquire self-conscious rationality; without rationality we would not have intrinsic value because we would lack dignity.
Intrinsic value fits into Kant’s categorical imperative because it presents the autonomy or free will where people have with their own choice to complete moral duties. People are able to respect or violate others’ dignity and morals in return for doing the same to themselves. From Kant’s belief we see that a murderer violates another’s human dignity when he commits the crime against him; in the same sense the accused murders himself or violates his own intrinsic value implying the principal of equality and the law of retaliation. Punishment becomes the moral duty that must be taken out for the purposes of our own intrinsic value and justification. With this said the categorical imperative or principal of punishment entails that the death...

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