Discussion

Initial Post Instructions

Kant’s famous First Formulation of the Categorical Imperative reads, “Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law.” Kant taught morality as a matter of following maxims of living that reflect absolute laws. “Universal” is a term that allows for no exceptions, and what is universal applies always and everywhere. Don’t forget about the second formulation of the categorical imperative which states, “Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of another, always at the same time as an end and never simply as a means.” It is just as important.

For the initial post, address one of the following sets of questions:

  1. What are the personal and/or communal ethical factors that may be involved in determining the moral position of either side given a contemporary debate, such as those concerning animal rights, stem cell research, abortion, the death penalty, and so forth?
  2. Elaborate in detail the ethical positions arrived at by using the Kantian categorical imperative relative to the long standing debate surrounding the death penalty or abortion. Argue the ethics from the point of view of the prisoner or from the fetus
  3. Evaluate the ethical positions in part two. You will want to detail whether they are convincing, logical, correct, consistent, etc.

Writing Requirements

  • Minimum of 2 posts (1 initial & 1 follow-up)
  • Minimum of 2 sources cited (assigned readings/online lessons and an outside scholarly source)
  • APA format for in-text citations and list of references

Answer:

For the initial post, I will elaborate on the ethical positions arrived at by using the Kantian categorical imperative relative to the long standing debate surrounding the death penalty.

The death penalty has been a controversial topic for centuries, with many people holding strong opinions on both sides of the argument. Kant’s categorical imperative provides a framework for examining the moral issues involved in the death penalty debate.

According to the First Formulation of the categorical imperative, we must act in a way that we could will as a universal law. This means that in order to determine the moral rightness of the death penalty, we must consider whether it would be acceptable if it were imposed on everyone in all circumstances. If the death penalty were imposed on everyone who committed a certain crime, it would result in a great deal of suffering and the loss of many innocent lives. Thus, the use of the death penalty cannot be willed as a universal law, and therefore it is morally wrong according to Kant’s theory.

The Second Formulation of the categorical imperative states that we must always treat people as ends in themselves, and never merely as means to an end. In the context of the death penalty, this means that we cannot use the punishment as a means of deterring crime or as a means of retribution. The prisoner who is sentenced to death is being treated merely as a means to these ends, and this is a violation of the categorical imperative.

In conclusion, the Kantian categorical imperative provides a strong argument against the use of the death penalty. The imposition of the death penalty cannot be willed as a universal law, and it treats prisoners as mere means to an end, rather than as ends in themselves. These arguments provide a compelling ethical case against the death penalty, and highlight the importance of treating all human life with respect and dignity.

Sources:

Kant, I. (1785). Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals. (M. Gregor, Ed.). Cambridge University Press.

Ten, C. L. (2011). Kantian Ethics. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/kantian-ethics/

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