Analysis of Person and Punishment in Immanuel Kant’s Moral Theory : Current School News

Conceptual Analysis of Person and Punishment in Immanuel Kant’s Moral Theory

Filed in Current Projects, philosophy Project Topics by on December 8, 2022

 – Conceptual Analysis of Person and Punishment in Immanuel Kant’s Moral Theory –

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Deep in the mind of human beings lies the conviction that a rough sense of justice demands the infliction of proportionate loss and pain on the aggressor as he has inflicted on his victim; the prominence of the ‘an eye for eye’ in law. The Bible is no exception: in its oldest form, it too included the law of ‘measure for measure’. Traditionally, deontological justifications, utilitarian justifications, or a mix of the two have been advanced to justify the infliction of punishment upon wrongdoers.

These theories teach that punishment achieves justice by making a felon to pay for the wrong he has done, and for the injured to feel compensated and protected. This was guided with the aim of deterring individuals from committing the same crime in future. With Kant, the concepts of person and punishment got different interpretations. He offers that punishment is important because it is a way of giving an offender what is his/her right to have, recognizes an offender as a rational being and it is an end in itself.

Kant called this idea of punishment; retributive justice. It equally offers stringent measures to curb man’s inhumanity to man. Hence, it is on these postulations that this study argues in support that punishment achieves justice, equity and respect for one another. The objectives of this study are: – (i) to articulate the relationship between the concepts of person and punishment in Kant (ii) to show the relevance of Kant’s moral theory to the society, to consider the strengths and weaknesses of Kant’s moral theory (iii) to highlight the implications of Kant’s conception of person and punishment for the contemporary Nigerian society.


According to a report by the Guardian Newspaper; Vol. 31, No. 13,270 that on 28th of April 2015, Indonesian government executed eight death row prisoners in Nusakambabgan prison near Cilacap in Central Java convicted in April 2005 for drug-related offences. The eight were Indonesian Zainal Abidin, Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, Brazilian Rodrigo Gularte, Nigerians Sylvester Obiekwe Nwolise, Raheem Agbaja Salami and Okwudili Oyatanze, and Ghanaian Martin Anderson.

The paper further stated that pleas for leniency from their families, international communities and diplomats were rejected by the Indonesian president, Joko Widodo. The researcher began to wonder on the sanity in this discernible event with certain pertinent questions which have to do with moral values. The researcher asked; what is the relevance of clemency in crime related cases especially crimes perilous to both human and societal values?

Suppose clemency was granted to these drug related convicts, what becomes of deterrence, won’t people continue to commit the same crime with the anticipation that the same clemency might be offered in their own turn? What is justice? Finally, can justice be equated with mercy in the civil society? A perennial moral question is always asked; why is it morally legitimate, permissible and possibly obligatory that a wrongdoer must be punished?



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CSN Team.

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