Kant on the Death Penalty

This article explores why Kant, on the basis of his own philosophy, should have rejected the death penalty.

A brief summary of salient features of Kant's moral philosophy brings into sharp focus the tension betwen the respect due to persons as beings of infinite intrinsic worth and Kant's argument that the death penalty is necessary to redress the crime of murder. The argument that the perpetrator must suffer the same harm as was inflicted on the victim entails a logic suited to things and the relation of things to things; it is a logic of equalization of forces, not a logic suited to rational intelligences in relation.

The essay concludes that while Kant was right when he consistently argued throughout his published works that morality must govern politics. In this instance he seems to have allowed politics to govern morality. He shows a better way, one which excludes the death penalty as a gross violation of morality. Work in Progress